Two days before Labor Day, Washington State’s chances of getting to a bowl game took a killer hit here in the opener against Idaho State.
Jeff Tuel, one of the nation’s underrated quarterbacks and the unquestioned leader of the WSU offense, suffered a broken left clavicle on his only series of the game in the first quarter. The day had begun badly for Tuel when he woke up with a stomach virus and didn’t start,
Marshall Lobbestael, senior from Oak Harbor, led WSU to touchdowns on his first two drives, and then Tuel entered the game with 6:14 left in the quarter. Tuel threw only two passes on his drive for a field goal, but it may have been a scramble that cost him the collarbone. On a 2nd-and-6 play at the Idaho State 10, he looked for a quick shot over the middle, didn’t see anything and ran to his right. He was flipped down at the right sideline, but got up quickly and didn’t appear to be hurt.
Stopped for no gain on the play, Tuel then threw a four-yard flip to Rickey Galvin before a WSU field goal made it 17-0. The Cougars led 40-0 at the half against a badly outmanned Bengals team.
Loss of Tuel is a monstrous blow to WSU’s bowl hopes, and possibly, to the future of Coach Paul Wulff himself. Having gone 5-32 in his first three seasons, WSU was widely seen as having to get to the post-season to save his job.
There was no immediate word from WSU on the length of Tuel’s absence, but as a rough guess, such injuries normally take 6-8 weeks to heal. By then, the Cougars would be at least into mid-October.