When the Cougar offense inevitably misfires, Gardner Minshew II can flex his instinct and athleticism on command to avoid negative plays or even pick up a few yards.
“I’m a big FitzMagic guy,” declared Minshew II through his Top Gun aviators when speaking to press following Utah.
After electrifying Martin Stadium with his third 400-plus yard performance in just five starts, it isn’t hard to see why. By virtue of air or ground, the Mississippi native made work of a premier Pac-12 defense.
Leach’s Air Raid offense, like any other, is a science. It can be taught, learned, applied and mastered. And his newest signal caller, Gardner Minshew II, has shown little to no struggle upon taking the reigns.
However, sometimes in the game of football it pays to be an artist; improvising on the fly to extend plays and demoralize the opposing defense. This tends to be an inherent trait that cannot be taught.
Garner Minshew II, just four weeks into the season, has shown himself to be a rare breed. He’s proficient at both.
The result? WSU finding the end zone when they shouldn’t, and the first half against Utah displayed this narrative as good as any other on the year.
Despite an outstanding display by the offensive line, the down nearly resulted a coverage sack that would have spotted the line of scrimmage at the peak of placekicker Blake Mazza’s range.
But no, Minshew II found a way to move the sticks. Keeping his eyes downfield, he played slalom with Utah’s linemen and adlibbed an 18-yard completion to Travell Harris. And just like that, the Cougs found themselves on Utah’s doorstep.
Two plays later, Minshew II did this:
3rd-and-goal from the 20-yard line was certainly a more realistic outcome. But Minshew II flushed the pocket at precisely the last moment and changed a potential loss into a seemingly effortless score.
The scramble is rather standard and not necessarily indictive of superior athletic prowess; however, it does signal instinct. And the graduate transfer quarterback turning junior defensive back Josh Nurse to stone in open field? unheard of.
The last time Wazzu saw a quarterback move like that was Jeff Tuel in the 4th quarter of the 2012 Apple Cup. And since, its been a notable void in the Cougar offense.
“You’re either coaching it or you’re allowing it to happen,” Leach famously said.
And while the Pirate likely isn’t coaching his quarterback on the intricate techniques improvisation, he likely won’t make it stop either.