Having lost his starting job to rising star Jeff Tuel, Lobbestael got thrust back into action early this season and had a remarkable, and unexpected, run of success.
Now, through a myriad of stars aligning at the right time, he'll get another chance -- again -- to make a lasting impression.
Having already endured a ridiculously unpleasant experience in the 2009 Apple Cup, Lobbestael will close out his collegiate career -- and quite possibly play the final football game of his life -- as the Cougars' starter Saturday afternoon at CenturyLink Field, the NFL stadium in downtown Seattle.
"I'm just glad I was here for the team, and I'm excited to get an opportunity to start," he said. "I'm glad I get the chance to play in the Apple Cup; that's obviously exciting. I'm just excited for the opportunity."
Not that Lobbestael would have wanted it this way.
It took injuries to two teammates for Lobbestael to get his starting job back. Tuel suffered a recurrence of his collarbone injury when the Cougars played last month at CenturyLink and then red-shirt freshman phenom Connor Halliday's liver was lacerated in Saturday's loss to Utah.
But the chance to start his final game, against the Cougars' biggest rival, is one that Lobbestael hopes will be among his football highlights.
After leading Oak Harbor High School to a 2006 state championship, Lobbestael has had a roller-coaster career at WSU. He earned a shot at the starting role in 2008, but a knee injury derailed that season. He got a second chance midway through the 2009 season and started three games. His most forgettable appearance came in the Apple Cup, when he came off the bench to complete just nine of 22 passes while getting sacked four times in the Cougars' 30-0 loss.
"I just remember it was a rough game," Lobbestael said of his last Apple Cup appearance. "Offensively, we couldn't really do anything. Those guys shut us down, so it was a rough game."
Having spent most of 2010 backing up Tuel, Lobbestael became WSU's starter again when illness, and then a broken clavicle, sidelined his teammate. Lobbestael responded with his collegiate career's most impressive stretch, during which he spent more than a month among the national leaders in passing efficiency.
Tuel regained his job, but another collarbone injury put Lobbestael behind center for a brief stint before Halliday threw for a freshman-record 494 yards two weeks ago against Arizona State. Halliday played the entire Utah game on Saturday but found out afterward that he had lacerated his liver, putting Lobbestael back behind center.
WSU coach Paul Wulff believes Lobbestael is ready for the moment.
"He's a veteran guy who's played a lot of football," Wulff said. "We need him to go in there and execute our offense. I expect Marshall to play a good football game."
Lobbestael certainly feels more prepared than he was before the 2009 Apple Cup disaster.
"I just feel older, more mature and more prepared for this week than I was a couple years ago," he said.
With dim pro prospects, and the Cougars already having been eliminated from bowl contention, Lobbestael might very well be playing the final football game of his career on Saturday. If it's a prospect that strikes at his emotions, Lobbestael isn't letting on.
"I'll just see what happens after the game," he said. "I'll see what I'm feeling like after the game, and see how my body feels. I want to focus on the Apple Cup, and then all that other stuff I can worry about after Saturday."
Apple Cup notes
After a closed Wednesday practice, Washington coach Steve Sarkisian said he will start senior Nick Wood in place of injured left guard Colin Tanigawa in the Apple Cup. The rest of the starting lineup, Sarkisian said, will remain the same. Tanigawa has not yet had surgery on his torn anterior cruciate ligmament, but Sarkisian hopes to get the surgery done "sooner rather than later" because the 2012 opener might be in jeopardy for Tanigawa if there is much delay. Sarkisian said quarterback Keith Price (knee) has looked good this week after sitting out most of Saturday's loss at Oregon State. Looking ahead, Sarkisian said it is unrealistic to expect Price's knee to be 100 percent before a bowl game and that the team would have to re-evaluate it after the season to see if a minor medical procedure might be necessary in the offseason. Senior left tackle Senio Kelemete returned to practice Wednesday after missing the previous two days to attend to a personal matter.
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