When asked whether the starter at Oregon this week would be Jeff Tuel, who was 14 of 22 for 130 yards in his first collegiate appearance Saturday against USC, or sophomore Marshall Lobbestael, coach Paul Wulff didn't have an answer.

PULLMAN — It showed throughout Saturday’s game: Washington State, the 98-pound weakling of the Pac-10 last season, isn’t about to get sand kicked in its face any longer.

“We know playing in the Pac-10 we’ve got to be physical,” coach Paul Wulff said on Sunday, looking back at the 27-6 loss at USC. “It’s a huge priority for us.

“We’ve come a remarkably long ways in one year to improve in that area,” he added. “We’re not where we want to be, but we’ve made some huge strides.”

That being said, it was the play of freshman quarterback Jeff Tuel that elicited the most interest after the game. When asked whether the starter at Oregon this week would be Tuel, who was 14 of 22 for 130 yards in his first collegiate appearance, or sophomore Marshall Lobbestael, Wulff didn’t have an answer.

“We haven’t named one officially,” he said. “We’ll have a better idea and we’d like to have that by [today].”

Lobbestael, who led WSU (1-3, 0-2 Pac-10) to the overtime victory against Southern Methodist, was 2 of 9 for 14 yards in five early series against USC.

“I thought early on our protection was not good,” Wulff said. “Marshall took some unnecessary hits that shouldn’t have happened.”

Lobbestael was sacked four times, as was Tuel. However, Tuel avoided a handful more, running for 34 yards either on planned runs or scrambling when plays broke down.

The Cougars offensive line, already down two starters, looks to be even thinner coming up. Starting guards B.J. Guerra (knee) and Zack Williams (ankle) are expected to be out again, and they might be joined on the sideline by another starter, tackle/guard Steven Ayers, who suffered an ankle injury against USC and is “highly questionable” for Saturday, according to Wulff.