Sophomore Alex Brink, who guided the Washington State Cougars to two late-season football wins last fall, was named Tuesday by head WSU coach Bill Doba as the starting quarterback for WSU's season-opening game Sept. 1 against Idaho.
"He just made less mistakes," Doba said in explaining the coaching staff's decision. "He was more aware of the offense and did the little things, like throwing the ball on time. He's improved and improved his arm strength," added Doba
Brink edged past junior Josh Swogger to get the starting nod after nearly three weeks in fall camp. Last fall Swogger started the first six games, but was then sidelined for the rest of the year because of a broke bone in his left foot. Brink started the final five games and helped the Cougars beat UCLA and Washington late in the year.
Doba said the selection of Brink was made after much staff discussion. Doba, quarterback coach Timm Rosenbach and offensive coordinator Mike Levenseller were the principle coaches involved in the final decision.
Last year Brink, who prepped at Sheldon High in Eugene, completed 97 of 194 passes for 1,305 yards and seven touchdowns. He threw five interceptions.
Swogger started fall camp as the number one quarterback on the depth chart, with Doba saying he couldn't lose his job because of an injury.
Brink, for one, knew there would be a battle before the starter was named.
"I knew it would be a battle, everyone knew it would be a battle," said the Eugene, Ore., native. "I've always been the underdog and that has drawn me to work harder," he offered after practice.
Brink felt his consistency and getting much of the work in the spring paid big dividends.
"I felt I was fairly consistent," said Brink, who added being the number one signal caller in spring drills was a huge factor. "It gave me a chance to run with the ones all spring." Swogger, while recovering from fall surgery, did not participate in spring drills.
"Alex has been consistent throughout the spring and fall," Cougar quarterback coach Timm Rosenbach said Tuesday.
"We have harped on the little things, making sure guys are lined up, understanding what your checks are," Rosenbach said. "He picked up on that so quickly it gave him an edge from the standpoint of what we call little things, but they are really things if you don't do them you are not going to be very good. On the mental side of the game and the technical side he has done a nice job."
Swogger played in nine games as a red-shirt freshman in 2003 and then won the starting job last fall. In his six games as a starter in 2004, he completed 91 of 193 passes for 1,283 yards, 13 touchdowns and seven interceptions.
"It was a tough decision, I love Josh like a son," Doba commented. "It was hard to tell him the other guy," he said as his voice trailed off. "Josh is still going to help this team and compete for the job," added Doba, who earlier pointed out history indicates WSU will need two quarterbacks.
Hill Named To Biletnikoff Award Watch List
Washington State wide receiver Jason Hill has been named to the preseason watch list for the Biletnikoff Award, named for Hall of Fame wide receiver Fred Biletnikoff.
Since 1994, the Biletnikoff Award, presented by the Tallahassee Quarterback Club Foundation, has been awarded annually to the nation's outstanding college football receiver.
Hill, a junior from San Francisco, Calif., caught 45 passes for 1,007 yards while setting a WSU record with 12 touchdown receptions last season. He garnered All-Pac-10 second team honors and was named the Cougars' offensive MVP.
During a five-game stretch last season he had 20 receptions, nine for touchdowns, including a six-catch, 206-yard performance against Colorado, the seventh-best single-game performance by a WSU receiver.
Hill becomes the fourth Cougar this season to earn national preseason recognition. Center Nick Mihlhauser is on the 2005 Dave Rimington Trophy watch list, senior linebacker Will Derting has been named to the 2005 Bronko Nagurski Trophy, Lombardi Award, Lott Trophy, and Ted Bednarik Award watch lists, and junior defensive end Mkristo Bruce was named to the 2005 Ted Hendricks Defensive End of Year Award preseason watch list.
Hill joins 30 other players on the Biletnikoff Award watch list, and is one five from Pac-10 institutions, along with Arizona State's Derek Hagan, Oregon State's Mike Hass and USC's Dwayne Jarrett and Steve Smith.
2005 Biletnikoff Award Watch List
Jason Hill - Washington State Andre Caldwell - Florida Calvin Johnson - Georgia Tech Chad Jackson - Florida Charles Sharon - Bowling Green Courtney Taylor - Auburn Derek Hagan - Arizona State D'Jaun Woods - Oklahoma State Dwayne Jarrett - Southern California Eric Deslauriers - Eastern Michigan Greg Jennings - Western Michigan