FIRST QUARTER GRADES: Quarterbacks

GRADE: C+

STATS:
(best viewed in widescreen)


Passing "Rushing" Sacks
G Rating Comp Att Pct Yds Y/G Y/A TD INT Rush Yds Y/G Avg TD Sack YdsL
2009 - Marshall Lobbestael 3 50.0 34 71 47.9 0 0 5 2 3 4 -13 -4.3 -3.3 0 not available -


Passing "Rushing" Sacks
G Rating Comp Att Pct Yds Y/G Y/A TD INT Rush Yds Y/G Avg TD Sack YdsL
2009 - Kevin Lopina 2 60.0 28 47 59.6 0 0 6.7 1 2 13 26 13 2 1 not available -

EXPLANATION:

Let's start with the positives. The first is that we're three games in and we've won a game against a FBS opponent. And whether or not they really should be judged by wins and losses, quarterbacks are judged by wins and losses. And it is thanks in large part to a clutch 80-yard game tying drive captained by Marshall Lobbestael that we made it into the win column in 2009. Also positive: a passing touchdown for Kevin Lopina! After a frustrating 2008 where Kevin could only find the end zone on the ground, he's finally hit the promised land in his senior season. And the Cougar QB unit is also doing a much better job in terms of throwing it to the right colored shirts. After coughing up 3.5 interceptions last year for every touchdown, Lopinastael has shaved that number down to 1.6 INTs for every TD. Nothing to brag about to your friends, for sure, but enough to feel a little better.

The grade for this unit honestly could have been an incomplete. That's because the Cougars messed around with a two quarterback system for the better part of two games, and are now considering throwing a third party, freshman Jeff Tuel, into the mix. Lobbestael's start and win last Saturday against SMU, coupled with Lopina's banged-up calf, have suddenly solidified Kevin Lopina's place in the background. Funny since only three games ago he was the clear #1 guy in the QB rotation. We're not sure of what we may get from Tuel, and to be perfectly honest we aren't sure what we're going to get from Lobbestael. He looked ineffective for much of the SMU game, save for late touchdown passes in both the first and second halves. It's not a source of pride when the opposing quarterback - in this case, Bo Levi Mitchell - provides as many Cougar passing TDs as our own QB does.

Statistically, Lopina has clearly been the better man. A 59.6% completion percentage versus 47.9% for the Rock Lobster. More importantly, 6.7 yards per attempt versus 5.0 for Lobbestael. Lopina is also, not surprisingly, more effective in the rushing game, gaining 2 yards per rush attempt. Lobbestael averages a loss of 3.3, because he's a pocket passer, and we obviously include sacks in that average. The only key category Lobbestael leads is touchdowns, with his two key passes against SMU. If you want to look at QB rating, Lopina wins again: 60 to 50. Actually, the real winner in that category is Jeffrey Solomon, who rocks a 494.8 passer rating! What do you mean it was on a trick play? Stats don't lie.

All this begs the question: Why isn't Lopina still the starter? Well, there's three reasons I can think of. One, we're looking at a pretty darn small sample size, especially when the snaps have been split between the two guys. Not enough information to draw a solid conclusion as to which man is better. Two, we're clearly building toward the future now. Since Lobbestael is a redshirt sophomore, we gain a lot more going forward by getting him experience now. Let him make his mistakes now, in a losing season, instead of 2011, when we hopefully have a chance. Finally, Lobbestael shook off his bad day, pulled himself together, and led the Cougars to an overtime victory that may have saved us from a Huskyesque 0-12 season. That's one heck of a positive to build on.

WHAT CAN BE DONE TO GET THE GRADE UP: Accuracy, accuracy, accuracy. Especially from Lobbestael, who looks to eat up the majority of the snaps for the remainder of the year (unless of course Tuel comes in and blows everyone away). Our passing yards per attempt are actually not horrible, at 5.9. That's tied with a much more talented Oregon offense. Nevertheless, a completion percent of 52.1% overall ranks WSU at 102nd in the country. That's not so great, and it needs to be improved immediately if WSU wants to stay competitive in conference.

The Cougar quarterbacks have improved dramatically in not throwing the ball to the other guys. Now, they just have to get a little bit better at throwing it to their own.

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