Brokeback Cougars

Those of us that wanted to see if Marshall Lobbestael's awesome performance against Portland State was a function of the opponent or his ability level will get our wish this weekend, as it was revealed last night that Kevin Lopina is out for at three to six weeks with -- I am not making this up -- a fractured vertebrae.

That's right, Coug fans: We have two quarterbacks with broken backs.

Thus, Lobbestael will make his first start under center this weekend against the Ducks. He'll be backed up by Dan Wagner, a backup punter who once played quarterback in high school, and JT Levenseller -- yup, son of that Levenseller -- who is a true freshman the Cougs were hoping to redshirt.

I would never wish injury on anyone, and I hope Kevin Lopina has a speedy recovery, but this is a positive development for the program. I've never been a fan of guys splitting time behind center because I don't think it really gives you any kind of accurate idea of what a guy can really do.

Using a dynamic tandem at quarterback with plays specifically designed for each weaved into the game plan might be great for helping a team win -- Florida obviously proved that a couple of years ago with Chris Leak and Tim Tebow -- but playing two quarterbacks in the same game to try and evaluate each is a flawed plan. A quarterback needs a chance to get into the flow of the game and adjust to everything the defense throws at him, and that only happens if a guy plays from the first snap until the last.

The crazy thing is, I think Paul Wulff knows that and was prepared to let Lopina play the vast majority of the game on Saturday against Portland State and Oregon. So while I don't think he wants Lopina hurt, just like the rest of us, there's got to be a part of him that's feels a sense of relief that he didn't have to figure out a way to play both players and no longer has to deal with any kind of quarterback controversy.

We basically know what Lopina brings to the table. Now, we get to truly see what Lobbestael can do against a Pac-10 defense that isn't overmatched and gassed. I'm excited.

Of course, we'll get no sympathy from the Oregon fans, who, unlike us, aren't excited to be starting their 3rd string quarterback on Saturday. But the Ducks also might be the perfect example of what using a tandem at quarteback to try and win a football game can look like.

JC transfer Jeremiah Masoli -- who, incidentally, attended the same high school as a certain WSU-legend-turned-mediocre-but-improving-broadcaster -- earns the starting nod, but we'll likely be getting a healthy dose of true freshman Darron Thomas, too.

From what I can find, Masoli is a typical spread offense quarterback with an accurate arm and the ability to run the ball, although it doesn't seem like he's a prototypical "spread option" quarterback. (Again, going by reports here.) Thomas, on the other hand, can best be described as dynamic -- the prize jewel of Oregon's 2008 recruiting class as the No. 15-rated QB by scout.com. He was slated to redshirt, but that went out the window when the Ducks' top three quarterbacks each went down.

Thomas is a true dual threat, and he threw for three touchdowns in the fourth quarter against Boise State last weekend. How -- and how much -- Mike Bellotti uses Thomas will be something to watch this weekend.

In any case, the Ducks' situation at quarterback should give the Cougs' some hope heading into this weekend. Masoli and Thomas both are inexperienced, and Thomas made some throws on Saturday that could have easily turned into turnovers. And anything can happen if a quarterback gets turnover happy.

Unless the awesome Pac-10 replay officials overturn correct interception calls on the field. Then all bets are off.

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