Watching film has to be fun when your team wins 58-7.
So after taking a closer look at Washington State’s season-opening football romp over New Mexico State, Cougars coach Mike Leach was predictably satisfied.
“For a first game and a first time out, you’re always wondering how it will spill out after not playing for so long,” Leach said Monday. “I would say we were a little sharper than I guess I expected us to be overall for a first game. Our returners played like returners, and our young guys played like young guys initially, and then bounced out of it.”
Senior quarterback Anthony Gordon could not have been sharper in the first half of his first start for WSU. He completed 22 of 23 passes for 330 yards and four touchdowns, with his only incompletion being a dropped pass by Brandon Arconado.
“He was really accurate until we dropped that one ball,” Leach said. “If it wasn’t for that, I don’t know how many straight he would have, but probably 30, which is impressive.”
Leach said Gordon, who was 29 of 35 for 420 yards and 5 TDs, did an excellent job going through all his reads.
“And the one thing that he did that he had been doing in practice, is the ball comes off his hand quite clean and accurately,” Leach said. “As a result, receivers get more yards after the catch.”
The Cougars defense struggled on New Mexico State’s first two drives, with the Aggies gaining 116 yards. They scored a touchdown on their second series and missed a field goal on their first series. But WSU allowed just 201 more yards for the rest of the game and, of course, no more points.
“The defensive line, as the game went on, we started to more and more affect the quarterback,” Leach said. “The secondary and linebackers, after they adjusted to the tempo, they got better and better as the game went on. I thought we should have come out — or least we hoped we would — come out a little sharper, but we did adjust well and fairly quickly.”
The competition might be easier this Saturday with Northern Colorado of the Big Sky Conference coming to Pullman.
The Bears, an FCS team, lost 35-18 to San Jose State in their season opener and were 5-16 over the past two seasons. Leach, as all coaches do, talked up the next opponent.
“They’re a big, aggressive team,” Leach said of Northern Colorado. “I think they are getting better, too. … I think they’re a good, solid Big Sky team on the rise.”
The competition for starting quarterback might be over, but it appears graduate transfer Gage Gubrud and senior Trey Tinsley are still battling for the backup job.
“The two are neck and neck,” Leach said. “I think Gordon is clear-cut ahead, but I think Gage and Tinsley are pretty close.”
Gubrud completed 9 of 11 passes for 76 yards and a touchdown Saturday. Tinsley was 1 for 3 for 11 yards, but one of his passes was dropped.
*A big key to Leach’s offense is receivers getting yards after catches, and Leach was happy with that aspect Saturday.
“We did a good job of getting straight upfield after the initial catch and I think that’s the most important part,” he said. “If we keep doing that and don’t get tempted to kind of dance and run in place — and all kinds of these stupid moves. One thing you saw our receivers do is go upfield. You didn’t see a lot of stupid moves. And that’s just what they are, stupid, and hopefully we can avoid the disease of making a bunch of dumb moves.”