Whether or not it's a wise choice to roll out a kid who has suffered a broken vertebrae and now a brain bruise? That's certainly not for me to decide. That's why they have doctors and trainers and coaches, adults who can make those types of decisions that are best for everyone involved. But while there have been a few slivers of hope from Lopina, thinking back to the first half against Baylor and doing an OK job against Arizona and even ASU in the first quarter last week, the end-result in 2008 hasn't been anything to move the needle. Who can get excited over 10 INT's to zero TD passes?
It's not entirely his fault though, I mean think of the young offensive line combinations he's had in front of him, the early-season injuries to the WR corps, the running backs going down, etc. The off-the-field stuff is admirable as well, considering he's one of the few who decided to speak up and call out some of the quitters and locker-room lawyers.
The other thing here is that for whatever the reason, the staff seems to have really taken to Lopina. We had heard from the very beginning of the year that they loved his work ethic, and he really busted his butt in practice. He practiced like he WANTED THE JOB, not like some backup who gets a handful of reps and is simply going through the motions, knowing he won't do much on Saturdays but wear a baseball cap backwards and hold a clipboard. Maybe it's pretty telling when you consider how quickly they pulled the plug on Gary Rogers, which was what, six quarters of football until Lopina was in for the 2nd half vs. Cal?
In other injury news, nice to hear that Andy Mattingly is coming around with the bum ankle. The Times says he practiced with a brace, and Wulff said that "after watching him today, I expect him to play." Now how much he'll play, and where he'll play, that's a whole different question.
Talk about a lost season. Here was a guy who logged 91 tackles and eight sacks as a true sophomore last year, in only seven starts. This year? Just one start, vs. Portland State, at defensive end. He has still managed 34 tackles and 3.5 tackles for loss, but that's still less than half the tackles he put up last year. Granted, defensive end isn't a position where you are going to rack up tons of tackles. But just one sack in 2008 for Mattingly, compared to the eight logged last year? Not even close to what we were expecting.
On a defense that needs big, strong, physical players, Mattingly was regarded as one of the best on the team coming into 2008. He made several pre-season All-PAC-10 lists, and even something called NFLDraftScout.com had him listed as a future NFL draft choice at linebacker. I hope they are serious about exploring the idea of moving him back to linebacker next year and he closes his career on a high note. Right now, I don't think there is much argument out there that his move to defensive end has been a complete bust.
For the rest of the injury breakdown, Vince has a good run-down of the situation from yesterday. Check it out here.
From the "even more bad news" department, the Martin Stadium expansion on the next phase, you know, the one with the premium seats that we tout at the top of our page? Well, it's hit a bit of a snag, and it looks like there will be a delay. Howie Stalwick threw in this tidbit in his piece in the P-I today:
EXPANSION PLANS: Athletic director Jim Sterk said Tuesday the credit crunch likely will postpone the scheduled January start on construction of suites and other premium seating at Martin Stadium.
The Cougars have raised $5 million and need bank loans of $30 million to $35 million, Sterk said. He said a delay of more than "two to three months" on starting construction would push the completion past the desired date, which is before the 2010 home opener.
We had heard about this early last week, that barring a miracle, this thing was headed for a delay of some kind. Now we know. Damn recession. I blame President-Elect Obama. Where is this "change" he was talking about? My 401K is in the crapper, and I still have to pay my mortgage?? Whatever. We can start blaming him, right??? :)
Speaking of the P-I, the Go-2-Guy on his Go-2-Blog has some info on this Saturday's ESPN Gameday. They are actually going to interview the mastermind behind the WSU flag, Tom Pounds, who sees to it that the flag shows up on TV's across the nation, every freakin' week! Very cool.