PULLMAN — Standout Washington State running back Max Borghi is “questionable” for the Cougars’ game Saturday at Cal, and the status of sophomore quarterback Jayden de Laura is not yet certain, according to coach Nick Rolovich.
Borghi, a senior preseason All-Pac-12 pick, was sidelined after suffering an unspecified left arm injury early in the second quarter of WSU’s 24-13 loss to Utah in Salt Lake City this weekend.
“I can’t say specifically, but I think he’s probably questionable as we move forward into this week,” Rolovich said of Borghi during the second-year coach’s weekly news conference Monday. “But it could have been a lot worse is what they’re saying.”
As Borghi was dragged down to the turf on a short run, it appeared his left forearm, wrist and hand got pinned under Utes linebacker Karene Reid’s upper body.
Borghi came up clutching his left arm. He disappeared to the locker room, where he remained until after halftime. Borghi was spotted on the sideline in the third quarter wearing street clothes and either a sleeve or brace on his injured arm.
Rolovich said after the game the X-rays came back negative.
Borghi tallied 42 yards on six carries, averaging 7 yards a pop in one quarter of play vs. Utah.
The Cougars’ offense surely could have used Borghi’s pro-caliber explosiveness. WSU marched down the field with relative ease early on, but stalled often after halftime, gaining only 106 yards.
“I was excited because I think he came in with a great mindset. I thought he was running hard, we were moving the ball,” Rolovich said. “Deon (McIntosh) is a real physical runner, too, but I saw another level in Max, as far as how he was running the ball. I feel bad for him, but I’m glad it’s not terribly serious.”
De Laura, who’s been WSU’s most effective quarterback this year, was held out of the Utah game as he continues to recover from a left leg injury sustained in the second quarter a week earlier against Southern Cal.
De Laura was almost healthy enough to play, but the team doctor concluded late in the week that he was not quite ready, Rolovich indicated.
Rolovich did not disclose much Monday regarding de Laura’s status, saying only that the dynamic Hawaiian is “closer” to making his return.
Grad transfer Jarrett Guarantano started in his place and passed 25 of 36 for 248 yards and one touchdown against three interceptions — one in the red zone in the first quarter, and one late in the game that sealed the loss.
“Some things he definitely could have done better,” Rolovich said Monday when asked to assess Guarantano’s performance. “He stood in there and threw some balls down the field, and some of those dig routes and some of those sitdowns (hitches and curls) I think were positives.”
Rolovich did not blame Guarantano for his second interception. Star Utah linebacker Devin Lloyd jumped a screen pass in the third quarter and made an athletic pick.
WSU reached Utah’s 19-yard line on its second series, but the drive ended when Guarantano threw an errant pass right into Reid’s chest.
“The tip screen interception, I don’t put that one on him,” Rolovich said. “I think the first one, he wishes he would’ve had over.”
With about two minutes left in the game, Guarantano and receiver Donovan Ollie miscommunicated on a route and a pass fell into the lap of Utes cornerback Clark Phillips, who returned the interception 54 yards for the clinching score.
Guarantano took seven of the eight sacks WSU allowed — he held the ball too long a few times, Rolovich said.
“We gotta play better at the quarterback position,” Rolovich said. “ … We haven’t had a real clean start to the season at the quarterback position. We gotta see who’s available.”
Rolovich also provided updates on injured defensive backs Armauni Archie and Halid Djibril.
Archie, a backup nickel who hasn’t played since Week 1, “is going to be out for a while,” Rolovich said.
An apparent leg injury sidelined Djibril, WSU’s starting free safety, in the second quarter of the Cougars’ Week 2 win over Portland State.
“Halid’s on his way back, but I can’t be specific on that one at this point,” Rolovich said.
Senior center Brian Greene made his return against Utah after missing two games with an unknown injury. Sophomore Konner Gomness started at center, but Greene rotated in and played some left guard, too.
“I thought Konner did a good job filling in for Brian, and getting Brian back in the groove at a little bit slower pace was probably a smart move for his long-term health this season,” Rolovich said.