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Gesser’s Injured Ankle Is Good Enough to Play

Times Staff Writer

Washington State’s preparations for the Rose Bowl are essentially complete, with only a walk-through in the hotel ballroom scheduled for today.

Coach Mike Price called the final full session at the Coliseum on Monday an “excellent, excellent practice” and assessed the status of quarterback Jason Gesser’s ankle.

“I think he’s 90%. He says 80,” Price said. “It’s as good as it’s going to get.”

Gesser suffered a high ankle sprain Nov. 23 against Washington, and played against UCLA two weeks later at considerably less than full speed.

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“I was probably 25% or 30%,” Gesser said. (He still passed for 247 yards in a 48-27 victory.)

Price said Gesser’s diminished mobility isn’t all bad.

“He’s going to have to stay in the pocket a little more than he’d like to,” Price said. “He’s kind of changed his style of play since he’s been injured, and been just as effective.”

Gesser’s history of playing hurt -- with cracked and dislocated ribs, the ankle sprain, etc. -- has been widely glorified.

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By Monday, he had developed two new ailments: interview fatigue and a stuffy nose.

“Now he’s got a cold. He can fight through that adversity,” Price said, noting that Gesser is receiving medical treatment.

“He’s good enough. I think we caught it early.”

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Monday’s practice also was Price’s final full practice as Washington State coach, something he’s trying not to dwell on.

“I’m not allowing any feelings about that right now. I can’t look at [offensive coordinator Mike] Levenseller’s face without crying,” he said.

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Soon, Price will be immersed in all things Alabama, including an office a little more posh than the one to which he is accustomed.

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“I was walking around looking for the men’s restroom, and they said, ‘Well, why don’t you use the one in your office?’ ” Price said.

“I opened the door and there’s a little kitchen, a restroom, a big meeting room. I felt like an idiot.”

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Receiver Devard Darling, a transfer from Florida State, will be playing against Oklahoma in a bowl game for the second time.

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Darling was a special teams player for Florida State in the 2001 Orange Bowl, which Oklahoma won, 13-2, clinching the national championship.

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Backup quarterback Matt Kegel, slowed somewhat by a sore back over the weekend, has been pronounced ready to play if needed.


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