Washington State quarterback Marshall Lobbestael has got off to a blistering start to the 2011 season playing in place of a first sick, then injured Jeff Tuel. He's only played about five total quarters but Marshall has amassed some pretty impressive statistics, completing 74.5% of his passes for 591 yards. He's tossed seven scores and no interceptions. The redshirt senior already has more passing yards than he did in his freshman season in half as many attempts, and has doubled his career touchdown pass total.
However, it would seem there is one element of Lobbestael's game that has drastically regressed in his time at Wazzu: His timing.
I'm not talking about Lobster's ability to hit a receiver in the numbers right as he makes his break, or his sense for when to slide around in the pocket to avoid the rush. I'm alluding to something much more important.
On Saturday, Marshall had a breakout game of sorts. He threw for 361 yards and five touchdowns while playing only partly into the third quarter. Folks all over the country are talking about how hapless Wazzu put up 59 points on UNLV with their backup quarterback. How hell hath frozen over now that the Cougs are leading the nation in scoring without their golden boy. Even with all that publicity, his performance is missing one key element that he was able to achieve as a freshman.
This wasn't the first time that Lobbestael has had a breakout game. In 2008 he burst onto the scene against Portland State after the Vikings had destroyed the backs of Gary Rogers and Kevin Lopina. In that game Marshall led the offense to a number of second-half scoring drives to make the score actually look as if a Pac-10 team was playing a Big Sky team. In the end, the new quarterback completed 9/12 passes for 149 yards and two touchdowns. For his efforts, the Pac-10 named him their offensive player of the week. Marshall had chosen the perfect moment to rise to the occasion and put up some decent numbers against an overmatched team.
When looking at his stat line from his first game in 2008 and his last game on Saturday, it would seem that the only logical thing for the Pac-12 to do would be to award Marshall two, possibly even two and a half player of the week honors.
Unfortunately, I've been told that is not how player of the week works. Apparently only one offensive player is given the award each week. This week, Colorado's Paul Richardson took home the award after putting up video game numbers against Cal (11 catches, 284 yards, 2TD). There was also stiff competition from ASU's Brock Osweiler and Stanford's Andrew Luck, who each put together stellar passing performances. Lobbestael's effort was nothing more than a diamond in a bowl of other similarly sized diamonds.
This is the point that should have Coug fans concerned. Has Marshall Lobbestael lost the knack to rise to occasion when absolutely no one on the West Coast is doing the same? How many more five touchdown performances is he going to waste while other players in the conference are also having fantastic individual performances? As a freshman, he seemed to know exactly how to do the bare minimum to get the conference's highest weekly honor. Now it seems he is just wasting his energy throwing meaningless touchdown passes and twenty-yard completions.
As a group, we can only hope that Lobbestael can right this ship before it is too late. It is a bit disappointing that someone who showed so much award-winning timing as a freshman is struggling to do the same as a senior.