PULLMAN -- Paul Wulff says he has no regrets about playing Jeff Tuel on Saturday, but the Washington State coach would have loved to see his gutsy quarterback take the easy way out on the running play that likely will sideline him a month or more.
“He went for an extra-effort thing, and he took a hit from the side and fell to the ground,” Wulff said Sunday after reviewing tape of the play in which Tuel broke his left collarbone.
“Hindsight’s 20/20, but yeah, it would have been nice for him to run right out of bounds, sure. But you know, he’s a competitor. He came into the game, wanted to make something happen.
“He was out there competing. I can’t fault him for that.”
The Cougars project that Tuel, an honorable mention all-league pick in the Pacific-10 Conference last year, will miss four to six weeks.
The Cougars have a bye Sept. 24, but if Tuel makes a fast recovery, it’s not out of the question he could play in WSU’s Pacific-12 Conference opener Oct. 1 at Colorado.
Marshall Lobbestael, a fifth-year senior who lost his starting job to Tuel midway through the 2009 season, played well as a last-minute starter Saturday in a 64-21 win over Idaho State. The Cougars scored on their first two possessions before Tuel, who was suffering from a stomach virus, persuaded coaches to let him play.
“The plan was to play him a couple series, then get him out of there,” Wulff said.
The plan went awry when Tuel, a nimble runner who frequently takes off when the need arises, had to scramble on the fifth play of WSU’s third drive. He completed a short pass on the next play, then came out when a field goal was kicked.
“It (an injury) could happen to anybody on this football team at any moment,” offensive coordinator Todd Sturdy said. “The message needs to be to our players: Next guy in, and we’ve got to move forward.”
Lobbestael, who played sparingly last season, owns a 2-5 record as a starter. Tuel, a junior who is more mobile and has a stronger arm than Lobbestael, is 2-15 as a starter.
Lobbestael passed for 230 yards and two touchdowns Saturday. He would have topped his career high of 239 yards if not for some dropped passes.
“He did an excellent job,” running back Rickey Galvin said. “Just to step up in the spur of the moment, that’s really a leader to me.”
The Cougars, who have not won two consecutive games since early in the 2007 season, return to action Saturday at home against UNLV (2 p.m., no TV).
The Runnin’ Rebels lost their opener at No. 11 Wisconsin, 51-17.