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Freshman QB Tuel gives Cougars hope for future success

Sam Werner | Friday, October 30, 2009

To say things haven’t been going well for Washington State this season may be a bit of an understatement. The Cougars are 1-6 and haven’t looked any better than last season’s 2-10 campaign.

The lone bright spot, though, may be the play of freshman quarterback Jeff Tuel.

“[Tuel's progress] is good,” Washington State coach Paul Wulff said in a press conference after the Cougars’ 49-17 loss to California Oct. 24. “I think he is on a good pace. He needs the help around him. The receivers are young and the O-line is young, but all the parts need to do their job. The other 10 guys need to do their job, and he is only going to get better.”

The Cougars began the season with an apparent position battle between senior Kevin Lopina and sophomore Marshall Lobbestael, but both were ineffective in Washington State’s first three games before Tuel entered the picture.

Tuel made his debut in Washington State’s 27-6 loss to USC. Since then, he has thrown for 662 yards, four touchdowns and three interceptions.

“Obviously for an 18-year old playing his first football game he did a great job,” Wulff said in a press conference after the game. “He showed great poise. There were some mistakes but he did a nice job of not forcing throws or eating the ball or just taking off and running. He showed a lot out there.”

After a promising first game against the Trojans, Tuel suffered a hip pointer against Oregon in his first collegiate start. The injury knocked him out for the rest of the game against the Ducks, but the freshman returned next week to lead the Cougars against Arizona State.

Even though the Cougars lost that game 27-14, Tuel’s progression continued. Last week, against Cal, Tuel had his most impressive game to date, passing for 354 yards and two touchdowns and no interceptions.

“Tuel can actually get it done,” Wulff said in a press conference after the game. “Our protection has not been great. At times when we have had [good protection] we have been successful; when we didn’t, it broke down. We have so many young guys playing at receiver they just haven’t been working together long enough. They have been together three or four months. As we mature we are going to get a lot better.”