PULLMAN — After scrimmaging Friday, resting Saturday, practicing Sunday and catching their breath again Monday, the Washington State Cougars returned to the field Tuesday for an afternoon practice at Martin Stadium/Rogers Field.
Gardner Minshew, a recent addition to the 49-player watch list for the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, got the lion’s share of quarterback reps on the 10th day of camp. He and Anthony Gordon split time during the one-on-one period, but Minshew got slightly more work during the skeleton passing period and was given two series during 11-on-11, while Gordon had one.
Minshew finished his first 11-on-11 series going 8 of 10 passing with three touchdowns, to Calvin Jackson Jr., Easop Winston Jr. and Kyle Sweet. Minshew completed 6 of 7 and tossed three more TDs, to Jackson, Max Borghi and Winston, in his second series.
Minshew continues to be the loudest presence on the field when he’s out there. From row three of the bleachers, it was easy to hear him shouting “Oh yeah! Oh yeah!” as he and the offense marched downfield.
Cougars coach Mike Leach said, “He kind of reminds me of a cross between Brett Favre and Jim McMahon, maybe. Something like that.”
Meanwhile, the first three plays of Gordon’s 11-on-11 series were an incompletion, a negative James Williams rushing play and a sack by redshirt sophomore linebacker Jahad Woods. Gordon, a redshirt junior, got on a bit of a roll after that, completing three consecutive passes – including a TD to Winston – before tossing incomplete twice more and throwing a pick to Justus Rogers.
Rogers, standing maybe 5 yards away, came up with the close-range interception near the goal line and took it 50 yards the other way before a mob of quarterbacks, including Cammon Cooper, John Bledsoe and Connor Neville, chased him out of bounds.
Gordon’s first eight days of camp were every bit as good as Minshew’s, but his 4-of-14 effort in Friday’s scrimmage, followed by Tuesday’s showing, have come at an inopportune time.
True freshman Borghi tore through the middle of the field and shed a few defenders to punch in a 38-yard touchdown during Minshew’s second series. Later, a shovel pass from Minshew to Borghi turned into a 20-yard touchdown.
Meanwhile, rangy sophomore Will Rodgers III has shown his versatility on defense. He has seen time at four positions in camp — defensive tackle, nose tackle, defensive end and Rush linebacker. As of late, he has worked primarily with the first-team defense at defensive end and joined nose tackle Taylor Comfort and D-tackle Nick Begg with the ones again Tuesday. That spot seems to suit Rodgers well. At 6 feet 5, he covers plenty of ground and has shown strong burst and explosiveness while coming around the edge.
Redshirt freshman Willie Taylor III has slingshotted himself to the first-team defense at Rush linebacker – a position that was new to him when he arrived on campus last year. Taylor III says he used the offseason to improve his “speed rush” and it has certainly shown in this camp.
Some of the fan base has already seen the video of Tay Martin’s jaw-dropping catch from Sunday’s practice on the official WSU Twitter account.
Martin was streaking down the left sideline, with Armani Marsh covering tightly, when he wrapped his arms around the cornerback to grasp an underthrown ball that would have otherwise deflected off Marsh’s back. Martin then pulled the ball into his body and ran out of bounds before spiking the football into the turf.
The sophomore from Louisiana ranked the catch after Tuesday’s session. “One, right up there,” Martin said. “It was a great catch. I mean I just went out there, routine play, tried to make the best out of it. It turned out great.”
Senior cornerback Darrien Molton was not in attendance for the second straight practice.
WSU practices Wednesday, Thursday and Friday at 3:30 p.m. before holding its second scrimmage on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. Practices are still open to the general public, but will close for good midway through next week.