After sitting out the first two series of the game with a stomach virus, Jeff Tuel took over a WSU offense with a 14-0 lead. Tuel, as many know, is a sign of hope for the Cougars, and perhaps the most promising player on the 2011 squad. But five plays into the season, disaster struck.
As Tuel rolled to his right on a scramble and headed toward the sideline, he was hit by Idaho State linebacker J. T. Albers. Tuel went down awkwardly, taking the brunt of the impact with the ground on his left shoulder. The result, we found out later, was a fractured clavicle.
You wouldn't know it from his reaction to the play. Tuel stayed in the game and even threw a pass on the next play before WSU settled for a field goal. He went to the sideline and said his shoulder felt "a little weird" and that he'd discovered a bump. As a precaution, he was taken to the locker room for x-rays, which revealed a fracture.
It's not all bad news for the Cougars. Backup quarterback Marshall Lobbestael was strong in relief, completing 14-19 passes for 230 yards and two touchdowns. Lobbestael will be relied on to carry the offense while Tuel recovers from the injury.
While no timetable has been officially set, head coach Paul Wulff expects Tuel to be out "four to six weeks." Tuel's level of discomfort wasn't high on Saturday and it was not his throwing shoulder -- both of which are positive signs.