The Cougs look to be two deep, or four-by-four, across the d-line for Saturday.
Starting on the line will be Mike Graise at weakside defensive end. Ropati Pitoitua will move back inside to tackle, joining DT Aaron Johnson while Matt Mullennix, who had 8 tackles (5 solo) against the Badgers, is the starter on the strong side.
Lance Broadus, a starting d-end who has been out all fall recuperating from shoulder surgery, will see his first action of the year against SDSU. Kevin Kooyman will also be ready to go, said Doba. Inside, Fevaea'i Ahmu will rotate in to keep Pitoitua and AJ fresh, and Matt Eichelberger is also in the plans.
"That way we can roll A'i Ahmu in there, and Eichelberger, and keep those four guys a little fresher," said Doba. "Kooyman will go and Broadus will go some too.
"So that will give us four good d-tackles and four good defensive ends."
BROADUS PRACTICED, and felt, better than expected on Tuesday and Wednesday, after being considered doubtful for SDSU early in the week, though some expected soreness came around later.
"He said it didn't hardly hurt at all during practice but afterwards it hurt...and that's the scar tissue hopefully getting loosening up. We don't want to put him out there to where he gets tired and tears that shoulder again -- but we'd like to get him in there a little bit and start to get him ready to go," said Doba.
DOBA SAID it's worth noting again that the d-line and defense went up against a very good offensive line at Madison.
"A little bit of the d-line catching all this static, that offensive line at Wisconsin is pretty good," said Doba. "And then we had some pressures, not all-out blitzes, that weren't executed properly -- a couple times they were and they came free, but their quarterback..scrambled away from them.
The defense has also focused on correcting a number of things this week, such as integrating the linebackers in more and de-mystifying things for a youth-infused defense.
"I think we've gotten some things uncomplicated, we've really worked hard on the drops and getting our linebackers more involved in that drop coverage. We'll just have to wait and see, sometimes guys do things great in practice, and then come game time it's a little different story out there," said Doba.
Among the things Doba has reminded his defense about all week in preparing to defend against, assumedly, an offense like SDSU's is to watch the QB, be prepared for options, shovel pass and more. The Cougs have what Doba termed a "slight advantage" since they have a game's experience -- and have seen some of what they need to correct. The disadvantage are the unknowns of facing a team that hasn't played yet.
THE ONLY REAL injury of note coming out of Wisconsin, surprisingly, was a slight quad strain to corner Chima Nwachukwu. The true freshman ran on Sunday, sat out Tuesday for precautionary reasons and returned to the field Wednesday. Doba said he expects the Texan to start at his right corner spot on Saturday.
Ryan Kensok is the first corner option off the bench, with Devin Giles, who had seven tackles (5 solo) and a pass break up at Wisconsin, starting on the left side.
And Markus Dawes, who future appeared cloudy at best earlier this week due to injury, will travel to Seattle.
"We're going to take Markus Dawes and see how he holds up," said Doba, who said Romeo Pellum will also travel.
Safety Terry Mixon has been given an "unconditional release" said Doba, which would allow him to transfer to a school on the quarters system. The Cougs cannot, by rule, fill that scholarship, said Doba. The Cougars' head man said he doesn't know where Mixon might be headed and was not to his knowledge contacted by any other school while at Washington State. "I'd just as soon leave it at that. He's not a bad kid, good kid, and I think he was just frustrated, injuries, and I'll just leave it at that. He asked for a release and we've given it to him and I really don't want to go into any of that other stuff," said Doba.
Kickoff for SDSU is at 4 pm at Qwest Field in Seattle. The game will not be televised. Tickets can be purchased through TicketMaster outlets (206-628-0888), ticketmaster.com, or the Qwest Field Box Office.
Fans concerned with traffic and parking will have a unique option to consider in Sound Transit, who is running round-trip trains to Seattle just for the game. Departure points are Tacoma, Puyallup, Sumner, Auburn, Kent, Tukwila, Everett and Edmonds. For complete details, click to http://www.soundtransit.org/x6122.xml .
An Air Force fly over and Navy Seal parachute team will be part of the pre-game festivities. The King County Cougar Club is pushing a "Wear Your Crimson" campaign for the game. The Washington Beef Producers, who have put considerable advertising into the game, are the official sponsors of the Gridiron Classic.
Backup QB Kevin Lopina, sidelined in fall camp with a torn calf muscle, is out of the boot and cast. His calf, however, is still swollen and Doba estimated him to be out until midseason.
Boeing has signed a four-year deal to sponsor the Apple Cup, it was announced in Seattle today. The partnership between the aerospace company and the two universities will include networking and educational opportunities for students at both institutions.