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Originally published Wednesday, November 19, 2008 at 12:00 AM

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Apple Cup Notebook | Cougs expect Kevin Lopina to start

Kevin Lopina is expected to be Washington State's starting quarterback in Saturday's Apple Cup. Lopina, who suffered a concussion in last...

Special to The Seattle Times

PULLMAN — Kevin Lopina is expected to be Washington State's starting quarterback in Saturday's Apple Cup.

Lopina, who suffered a concussion in last Saturday's loss to Arizona State, was not cleared to practice Tuesday but lifted weights.

"We think he'll be cleared," Cougars coach Paul Wulff said.

Lopina will lift again this morning and, barring a setback, is expected to be cleared to practice with the team this afternoon.

Spread the blame

Washington offensive coordinator Tim Lappano said it was easy to see what went wrong Saturday when the Huskies were held to just 135 yards against UCLA — just look anywhere on the field.

"Nobody played well," he said Tuesday. "The offensive front, the receivers, the running backs, the quarterback. There wasn't one group that played to their potential against UCLA. We had a lot of mistakes everywhere."

In fact, it's a slump that's going on four games now as UW has averaged just 180.5 yards since the Notre Dame game Oct. 25.

"We've got to get better offensively," he said. "We've taken a couple of steps backward, and I don't think we are playing with any confidence right now."

That makes Saturday's Apple Cup matchup an intriguing one, pitting a UW offense that can't move the ball against a Washington State defense that can't stop anybody. The Cougars are 112th in the country in total defense, allowing 460.3 yards per game, a number made better by the fact that WSU held lower-division Portland State to 246.

"I thought we were starting to get better and doing some good things offensively, and after the USC game we have regressed every week," said Lappano, referring to UW's second shutout loss since 1981. "And that's going to have to change to win a football game."

Locker's chances at extra year limited

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Quarterback Jake Locker won't be able to throw a football until late December as he begins rehabilitating his broken right thumb, Lappano said.

Locker, a sophomore who was injured in the season's fourth game, against Stanford, recently asked UW compliance director John Morris about his chances of getting a medical redshirt for this season to be granted a sixth year of eligibility.

Morris told Locker that he doesn't qualify because he has already redshirted once by choice, in 2006. Those are only given for missing two entire years for events outside of a player's control.

If Locker were to be injured again and miss all of next season, however, then he might have a chance to get that year back.

A UW spokesman said the school will keep all the paperwork ready detailing Locker's situation this year in case it's needed later.

Notes

• UW announced that the Cal game Dec. 6 will be televised nationally on FSN and will kick off at noon. That will be the final game of the season and the final game for Tyrone Willingham as UW's coach.

• Huskies LT Ben Ossai (concussion) sat out practice and his status this week is questionable.

• Cougars LB Andy Mattingly (ankle) practiced, and "after watching him today, I expect him to play," Wulff said.

• WSU LB Myron Beck (broken hand), CB Tyrone Justin (ankle), LB Louis Bland (leg) and CB Romeo Pellum (leg cramps) all practiced and are expected to play.

Times reporter Bob Condotta contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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