Wulff: Lopina's the guy again

Per Cougfan.com, Paul Wulff said today -- presumably during his Tuesday news conference, although the article isn't clear -- that Kevin Lopina would once again start against Hawaii in Seattle at Qwest Field.

The article is short, so I don't want to steal the whole thing, but the gist is that they liked what they saw from Lopina in managing the offense, and that he could see even more time this weekend if he continues to play well. However, they "don't want to close the door" on Marshall Lobbestael, whom Wulff acknowledged made some impressive throws at times but struggled with consistency, noting that some was probably due to poor pass protection in front of him.

ESPN.com's Ted Miller is also reporting that Wulff made similar comments on the Pac-10 conference call today. Haven't seen anything from Grippi on it yet, but we'll pass that along when we do.

What does this mean? Who knows? It's like reading freaking tea leaves trying to figure out what these guys are thinking:

  • A month ago, I said it was clear that Lopina was their guy.
  • Then, despite Lopina clearly playing better in camp, they go and do this two-QB stuff, basically splitting drives down the middle against Stanford. That led me to believe that perhaps they actually did like Lobbestael better and were hoping he would do something that would allow them to give him the job without looking like they were taking the job away from a guy who "won" it in camp.
  • Now, we're going with the two-QB system again -- which I predicted last week would be the case -- only now, it sounds like Lopina is going to get more than half the snaps, as long as he does what he did on Saturday.

So, here's my tea leaf read for Tuesday, Sept. 8: It's sure looking like this coaching staff really does like Lopina better, and if they haven't made up their minds that he's the guy, they are strongly leaning towards giving him the job.

First of all, it sounds like it's pretty likely Lopina will get the majority of the series on Saturday, assuming he plays in a way that's comparable to how he played against Stanford. There's no reason to think he won't, given that Hawaii's defense shouldn't be better than Stanford's.

Second, if this really was a continuation of the competition from camp and they wanted to give Lobbestael a fair shot to win the job, wouldn't they give him a chance to start the game and play with the offense when it has the full use of the playbook? As we pointed out yesterday, of the 19 legitimate snaps Lobbestael was on the field, 16 were passes. Granted, some of them weren't pretty, but I'm also fairly certain that five passes to every one run doesn't give a guy the best possible chance to succeed.

I suppose Lobbestael still will have the chance to go out and get the job in limited action, whether by his performance or Lopina crapping the bed, but if Alex Brink and Gary Rogers showed us anything, once a coaching staff seems to be leaning one direction, it's awful hard to change their minds.

I now find myself in the position I was in a month ago, where I will be pretty surprised if Lopina isn't named the guy at some point.

But I reserve the right to interpret the tea leaves differently in the future if the winds demand it.

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