Washington State vs San Jose State: Sunday review

Washington State (2-0) sprinted past San Jose State (0-2) Saturday evening in a chilly Martin Stadium to a tune of 31-0. The Cougs jumped out to an early first quarter lead and never looked back.

Things we liked to see
Head coach Mike Leach elected to gamble on fourth down five times; four of which manufactured favorable results. Impressively, an attempt at fourth-and-ten from the 36-yard line turned into a reservation for six as Garner Minshew hooked up with Tay Martin for a score. On the season, WSU is 7/9 in fourth down situations.

Additionally, Gardner Minshew II’s mobility was refreshing. The quarterback scrambled for 32 yards and a touchdown on nine carries. He showed an ability to extend plays and drives with his legs on more than one occasion. He may be the Cougars most agile starting QB since pre-injury Jeff Tuel.

“I just do whatever I can to help the team,” Minshew II told Cindy Brunson in a sideline interview. “If that’s me running the ball, throwing the ball or whatever, I’m going to do it.”

Coming into the 2018 season, WSU’s young offensive line was laced with question marks; however, for the second week in a row, the unit allowed no sacks.

“The last couple years I think this group has been the closest,” said left guard Liam Ryan. “Coach says don’t be five pennies, be a nickel”

Back in August, Minshew II was asked what made his transition into the Air Raid offense easy. Without hesitating he responded, “Throwing to Tay Martin.”

Unsurprisingly, the pair connected for two consecutive touchdowns in the first quarter. Their lethal chemistry will only get better with time. Nothing but good signs from these two.

As for the Cougar defense, they need little explanation:

  • SJSU gained 109 total offensive yards: nine rushing and 100 passing.
  • Spartan quarterback Montel Aaron was sacked five times.
  • SJSU punted a total of 11 times on 12 drives; the latter of which was an interception recorded by Deion Singleton.
  • San Jose State never entered the red zone and did not cross midfield for the entire first half.

“We were pleased. It was fun out there just getting three-and-outs,” linebacker Justus Rogers told the media. “It’s always a good feeling knowing that we stopped the run. That’s what we wanted to do coming into this week.”

Finally, punter Oscar Draguicevich III was only called to duty twice. With a 51-yard boot and a 41-yard pin within the San Jose State ten, the redshirt sophomore made the most of offensive stalls.

Things we don’t like to see
Unfortunately, WSU’s success on fourth down was a byproduct of inefficiency on third down. The Cougar’s 4/14 mark was not much improved over the previous week’s 3/14 at Wyoming.

Simply put, the offense looked complacent in the second half. Seven points in the final 30 minutes was less than impressive.

“Kind of similar to last week, we fell into a lull and got in our own way a lot,” said Minshew II. “It is very frustrating and something we cannot let happen.”

Things we cannot believe we saw
A quiet night for the backfield was not expected. Between freshman Max Borghi and redshirt junior James Williams, the unit combined for 82 total rushing yards on 20 carries and zero explosive plays. The backfield was not particularly bad, but they certainly can play to a higher level.

“We could probably get a fast seventh grader and hit the hole as hard as we did,” criticized Leach in his postgame interview.

Considering our prediction, this matchup went according to plan:

  • SJSU will hang around for a quarter, but a clear talent disparity on both sides of the ball will show sooner or later.
    After pulling ahead to an insurmountable lead with minutes to play, I imagine some redshirt guys get a handful of reps.
    Cougs dispose SJSU, 41-14.

Where the offense fell short, the defense picked up the slack. In fact, the 31-point differential of Saturday’s shutout exceeded our forecast of 27.

Next week Washington State hosts in-state opponent Eastern Washington (2-0) at 5pm. Live coverage can be found on the Pac-12 Network.

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