The “Air Gordon” Era Begins as Cougar Nation Ushers in a New General
WSU Quarterback Anthony Gordon firing another missile against New Mexico State.  (James Snook-USA TODAY Sports)

Saturday night the Washington State Cougars opened the 2019 football season under the beautiful sunny skies of Pullman, Washington.  There was concern that Martin Stadium wouldn’t be filled with Cougar fans due to the holiday weekend.  That wasn’t the case as many of the students decided to stay.   As game time approached, parking lots were filled with RVs tailgating with thousands of Cougar fans celebrating the start of the college football season.  Just before kickoff, the stands were nearly filled to the brim as the WSU marching band kicked us off with the national anthem.  The Cougars were coming off a season where they had their best record ever of (11-2).  New Mexico State was their opponent, a game that the WSU should win, but this was a new era with new faces so we would know soon what to expect.

New Mexico State won the toss and chose to receive the kickoff.  Jack Crane, who was our kicker on kickoffs, boomed them all night into the endzone, not allowing the Aggies to get a decent return.  With that said, this would be a good sign to start the 2019 season, right?  We would soon find out.  New Mexico State quickly moved down the field with ease as WSU defensive backs were leaving guys wide open and tackles were being missed left and right.  New Mexico State finally got stopped and went for a 51-yard field goal that was unsuccessful!

New Quarterback Anthony Gordon came on the field to a roar from the crowd.  Gardner Minshew had graduated and moved on to the NFL after a career year in Pullman.  He won the hearts of Cougar Nation and fans across the world.  Anthony had big shoes to fill but Coach Leach had faith in his choice who had been in a battle with QB Gage Gubrud (Gage came in as the favorite, who transferred from Eastern Washington) all summer long.  Gordon soon put the critics to rest as he completed four of four passes and lead the Cougar offense down the field in 5 plays, the last a gorgeous 41-yard touchdown pass to Redshirt Freshman Rodrick Fisher for the score.  Just like that WSU led 7-0.

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New Mexico State said, “so what” and drove down the field and scored a touchdown in just under three minutes.  The defense looked lost on the field as they are looking for a leader to turn to, fortunately this was only game one.

“Air Gordon” continued his hot start as he led the Cougars down the field in 3 plays, ending the drive with a beautiful 48-yard pass and run for a touchdown to wideout Dezmon Pathmon.  The score was 14-7 as the Cougars kicked off.  Now was a time to make a stop on defense, but would they do it?

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After generating a first down, the defense forced a punt as the Aggies offense came to a halt.   WSU took the ball at their own 24-yard line with Gordon at the helm.  This time they took some time off the clock.  After 10 plays and 57 yards, “Air Gordon” would find wideout Easop Winston Jr. for 19 yards on play number 11 for the score, nearly four minutes into the 2nd quarter!  Cougars led 21-7 and just like that Gordon was 15-15 with three touchdown passes, not a bad way to start out his final year at WSU.

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The defense came alive as they recorded a sack on the Aggie offense and forced them to punt.  On first and ten from the Cougar 46-yard line, “Air Gordon” threw a 54-yard touchdown pass to wideout Travell Harris to put them up 28-7.  Wazzu’s defense would stop the New Mexico State offense after their drive stalled at the Cougar 37-yard line.  After forcing a punt, the Cougs took over at their 20-yard line and went on another time-consuming drive.  On the first play from scrimmage, wideout Brandon Arconado dropped a pass ending Gordon’s completion streak.  It didn’t stop Gordon from leading his troops down the field.  He quickly started another streak hitting six different receivers on the drive.  “Doak Walker” nominee for best running back in the country Max Borghi ended the drive with a 12-yard run for his first touchdown of the season (mark my words, he will score 15 touchdowns by seasons end).  With a score of 35-7, New Mexico State slowly moved the ball, choosing to run out the clock and go to the half down by four touchdowns.

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WSU received the 2nd half kick off and continued their dominance on offense.  Gordon drove his team down the field and scored in just over three minutes.  The star of the drive was RB Max Borghi who ran for 41 yards on 3 carries.  The drive ended on perhaps the play of the young season that made SportsCenter.  Travell Harris, who scored earlier, caught a pass and went sideline to sideline dodging tacklers and scoring his second touchdown of the game from 20 yards out.  With a score of 42-7, WSU fans were wondering how much longer until we saw the debut of Gage Gubrud!

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Wazzu’s defense, formerly known as the “Speed D”, came out strong after the kickoff to the Aggies.  They forced a punt after five plays.  Out came “Air Gordon” as the Cougs took over at their own 16-yard line.  Borghi took the handoff, went left, and galloped down the sidelines for 54 yards as the crowd went nuts!  For the first time all night, the offense failed to move the ball after that.  Kicker Blake Mazza came out and belted a 45-yard field goal to put the Cougs up 45-7.

Defense continued their strong effort as New Mexico State took over the ball.  After a quick first down, WSU secured their first turnover of the night with an interception by Marcus Strong!  “Air Gordon” came out on the field but was ineffective as he was sacked and threw two incomplete passes after that.  Was this the end of Gordon?  Mazza came out and hit his second field goal of the evening to put WSU up 48-7.

After another impressive performance by the defense that led to a punt, WSU went on a 10-play/ 90-yard drive that started with Gordon and ended with Gubrud at QB.  A minute into the fourth quarter, Gubrud hit Renard Bell with a 9-yard pass for the score to put the Cougs up 55-7.  Gage was 4-5 on the drive, an impressive debut in the middle of a 90-yard drive where he was stopped for a huge loss on his first WSU play from scrimmage.

After another interception by the WSU defense, 3rd string QB Trey Tinsley came in to try and lead the offense to another score from the Aggie 18-yard line.  He was unable to move the ball but that didn’t stop Mazza from coming in and securing his 3rd field goal of the night.  With 12 minutes left, the Cougs were up 58-7 as WSU was about to go 1-0 on the young season.

New Mexico State would then go on a 75-yard drive that would end with them fumbling into the endzone and the Cougs would get their 3rd turnover of the game.  Gage would come back in for WSU.  After moving the ball for a bit, both teams would exchange punts and the clock would eventually hit zero.  WSU would secure their first victory to go 1-0 on the season.

Takeaways from the WSU versus New Mexico State Game:

  • Anthony “Air” Gordon is insane. What a season debut from the senior Cougar who went 29-35 for 420 yards and 5 touchdowns.  Coug nation, I don’t see this as a fluke but more as a blessing.  He did an outstanding job.

  • Gage Gubrud is one amazing backup QB who had an amazing career at Eastern Washington. With that said, if something were to happen to Gordon or Gage was to outplay him down the road, either way the Washington State Cougars are in great hands.
  • The defense forced 3 turnovers but gave up a lot of yards. There were a lot of missed tackles and wide-open receivers.  Thankfully it’s game one, so they have time to correct the problems before the Pac-12 season starts up in three weeks.

  • Linebacker Jahad Woods is a beast! The Junior is poised for another big year.  Number 13 is a true born leader and left the game with a serious undisclosed injury.  If Jahad is out for a significant amount of time, someone needs to step it up on defense because this is currently a huge blow to the team.
  • RB Max Borghi is the real deal! Max lead the team with 10 carries for 128 yards and 1 touchdown.  He caught two balls out of the backfield.  Max Borghi is going to have a huge year for WSU if he stays healthy.  This Sophomore is only going to get better and better.
  • Nine different wideouts caught passes on Saturday (10 if you count RB Max Borghi), a sign of how much depth this team has. They were led by Dezmon Pathmon who secured 7 passes for 13 yards.

  • This team had over 600 yards in offense. They are only going to get better!

Next up is Northern Colorado this Saturday September 7th at 2pm.  Let’s fill those seats at Martin Stadium and better yet, lets make sure we are watching our television stations across America!  Cougar Nation we have something special here put together by our beloved leader Coach Mike Leach.  We need this win as a tune-up before we head to Houston and Utah, two huge games on this schedule.  We will talk to you next week after another Cougar victory!

Go Cougs!

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Brian joined the SSU in 2017 and covers the Everett AquaSox. I'm a graduate of Washington State University and I'm a die-hard baseball fan.