It was never supposed to be like this for Marshall Lobbestael. A college career that's taken more than enough twists and turns -- even just over the course of this past season -- comes to a close on Saturday as the Washington State Cougars travel to Seattle to face the Washington Huskies in Seattle in the 2011 Apple Cup. Lobbestael will lead the Washington State offense onto the field, but his path to the starting role in the Apple Cup has been an interesting one.
As a redshirt freshman, Lobbestael showed flashes of promise, even winning the Pac-10 Offensive Player of the Week award against Portland State. But a serious knee injury shortly thereafter left Lobbestael sidelined, setting back his development. He was playing catch-up, unable to fully participate in offseason workouts.
Though Lobbestael began the season competing for the starting quarterback job with Kevin Lopina, both were quickly supplanted by a young and talented true freshman: Jeff Tuel. As Tuel asserted himself and brought excitement to the fanbase, it seemed like Lobbestael's days, beyond mop-up duty, were all but over in Pullman.
And then this season happened. Tuel broke his collarbone five plays into his season, giving Lobbestael an opportunity. He took advantage as the Cougars won their first two games in convincing fashion. Lobbestael provided fans a moment in a win over Colorado as he hit Marquess Wilson for a last-second, game-winning touchdown in Boulder.
Tuel returned, then was injured again, and Lobbestael was thrust back into the starting role, only to lose his job to Connor Halliday, a redshirt freshman with a big arm. The rollercoaster continued after Halliday helped the Cougars to a win over Arizona State, only to suffer a lacerated liver in a loss to Utah this past weekend. And once again the Cougars turn to Lobbestael.
It's kind of fitting the fifth-year senior from Oak Harbor will lead the Cougars on Saturday in the Apple Cup. This year has been about Lobbestael, and the unexpected nature of it all seems to fit his career path.