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Jeff Tuel Could Play Against UCLA, Paul Wulff Says

Ever since Jeff Tuel broke his collarbone against Idaho State, WSU fans have been waiting for some definitive word on when the Cougars' star quarterback would return.

It seems we're finally approaching that moment. Via Vince Grippi's Twitter account, Paul Wulff said Tuel is progressing nicely and could indeed be ready for UCLA on Saturday:

Paul Wulff says Jeff Tuel is cleared to practice in full pads this week. As for timetable on his return, he says Saturday is possible. ...
Oct 03 via TweetDeckFavoriteRetweetReply

... "I think we'll leave that open," Wulff says on conference call. Decision will come later, depends on how Tuel practices, medical issues.
Oct 03 via TweetDeckFavoriteRetweetReply

Saturday was four weeks from the initial injury, and if he took the field against UCLA, that would be five. That jives with the initial 4- to 6-week timetable provided immediately after the ISU game. And at this point, I would assume "medical issues" is simply the medical staff's confidence that the bone could stand up to a hit without cracking again.

I'm also assuming that "how Tuel practices" won't be much of an issue. Because the injury was opposite his throwing shoulder, he's been tossing footballs around for weeks; regaining timing with his receivers shouldn't be a problem, since he never really stopped throwing.

Of course, the inevitable question will come down: With Marshall Lobbestael performing so well in three of his four starts, should Wulff mess with a good thing? And even if you think that's an absurd question, surely you have to take into account that WSU could potentially beat UCLA without Tuel, thereby giving him another week to heal up for a big home game against Stanford.

This is a huge decision for Wulff. If he plays Tuel and Tuel gets hurt again, fans will kill him for pushing it. If he doesn't play Tuel and Lobbestael has a bad game, fans will kill him for not pushing it and giving his team a chance to get to 4-1.

It's not really an enviable position to be in, except for this: For the first time in three years, this sort of a decision actually matters. Still, what do you think? Like Tuel's first injury, anytime you play someone, there's some risk of injury. Do you think the risk is worth it against UCLA?


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