Marshall Lobbestael will start at No. 7 Oregon, but Jeff Tuel could return this season.
SPOKANE — Backup Marshall Lobbestael will start at quarterback when Washington State plays at No. 7 Oregon on Saturday.
Starter Jeff Tuel reinjured his left shoulder in the first half of a loss to Oregon State last weekend. Coach Paul Wulff said Tuesday that Tuel will not play against Oregon.
“He’ll be out this week,” Wulff said of Tuel, who has missed most of this season with a fractured shoulder. “We’ll evaluate his health at the beginning of next week.”
Wulff said there is no sign of a break this time and predicted Tuel will return to action this season.
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Washington State (3-4, 1-2 Pac-12) has lost three straight games heading into the contest with Oregon (6-1, 4-0). That included a 44-21 pounding at the hands of Oregon State last weekend in Seattle in a game many WSU fans thought their team would win.
That has brought a spate of criticism for Wulff, who is on the hot seat after three losing seasons.
Wulff said he understood why some fans were angered by the loss, but he reminded them that the expectations of victory are a sign of how much WSU has improved in recent years.
“People expect us to win,” he said. “That’s been a long time coming.”
Wulff also cautioned fans not to give up on the team.
“We are in the eighth game of the year and still talking about a (possible) bowl game,” Wulff said. “When was the last time we had that in Cougar Nation?”
The loss to Oregon State dealt a blow to WSU’s hopes of qualifying for a bowl game. After Oregon, the Cougars face California, Arizona State, Utah and Washington, and need to win three games to qualify.
“It’s a 12-round fight and we lost round seven,” Wulff said. “We’ve got a good, tough young team.”
That team will face a stiff challenge at Oregon, which lost its season opener to LSU and has hardly been challenged since. Oregon averages 537 yards and 48 points per game.