Max Borghi is looking forward to maybe getting the chance to finally play four quarters.
Washington State’s sophomore running back was not used much in the second half in the Cougars’ first two games, blowout wins over New Mexico State and Northern Colorado.
Those games provided a great opportunity for WSU to bring in its reserves, but with the No. 20 Cougars facing a much bigger challenge Friday night at Houston (1-1), the starters could be needed for the full 60 minutes.
“I think we’re going to have a good opportunity to show what we are made of,” Borghi said. “It’s going to be fun to play four quarters and show what we are really about.”
Borghi said the Cougars were focused on the first two opponents, but “obviously this was marked on the calendar as a big game.”
Although the Cougars are coming off a 59-17 win over Northern Colorado (a lower-level Big Sky program), Borghi said the WSU offense needs to improve.
“We’ve just got to be sharper,” said Borghi, who has rushed for 162 yards and two touchdowns this season. “Obviously, it was Northern Colorado. There are just small little errors we need to improve on, like pass protection with the running backs, the offensive line needs to be more sound on certain plays, and the wide receivers — they did a good job — but they need to be better at blocking at some points and just route-running and getting open.
“Going into Houston will be a really good challenge for us because they’re a solid team and a sound team, and it will really show us who we are this week, truly. It’s a good matchup, and we are excited about it.”
Houston was 7-1 heading into November last season and ranked No. 17 in the country, but the Cougars lost four of their five final five games, including an embarrassing 70-14 loss to Army in the Armed Services Bowl. That collapse cost coach Major Applewhite his job.
Dana Holgorsen, a protege of WSU coach Mike Leach, replaced Applewhite. Houston lost 49-31 in its opener at Oklahoma, allowing 686 yards, but rebounded with a 37-17 win over Prairie View A&M last week.
WSU is a nine-point favorite, and Borghi said it will be a good matchup. But he is confident the Cougar offense can have success.
“They played against an Air Raid-style system a couple of weeks ago against Oklahoma, and you saw how that turned out,” he said. “I think they will try to game-plan for us, but it’s hard to game-plan against us because we have weapons all over the board.
“I am excited to see how they play us and what they are going to try to do. Obviously, we’re the Air Raid and we throw the ball a lot and we have great wide receivers everywhere. If you load the box up, we’re going to throw it, and if you take some guys out, we’re going to run it. We can gash them with the run game too.”
It is not lost on the Cougars that the nation will be watching on ESPN. Borghi said the Cougars are eager to show who they are.
“We’ve just got to go out there and bring our energy,” he said. “We’re a team that has a lot of energy, and we’re going to go out there and shock them. They’re not going to be ready for what’s coming.”