“Uncle Rico” leads his Cougs to Victory

Photo Courtesy (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)

Gardner Minshew is quickly making himself an urban legend for the Washington State Cougar football team. The starting quarterback of the Cougars who resembles the character in the movie “Napoleon Dynamite” named “Uncle Rico” lit up the San Jose Spartans on Saturday night in Pullman, Washington. WSU went to 2-0 on this young season as “Uncle Rico” lit up the Spartan defense for 414 yards and 3 touchdowns as WSU went to 2-0 on this young season. Minshew completed 34-51 with 2 interceptions. He also ran for one touchdown.

In the first half, the Cougars went up by the score of 24-0 despite the two interceptions. He threw 2 touchdowns to Sophomore wideout Tay Martin to take an early 14-0 lead. After that, the offense stalled to where they could only make 10 more points, but it was enough as they lead going into half. The new and improved Cougar defense held the Spartans to a measly 23 yards as the Cougar offense accrued over 300 yards.

In the 2nd half, things changed. The offense was so bad, they didn’t score until late in the 4th quarter to make it 31-0 on a td pass to RB James Williams. It was so bad that WSU coach Mike Leach had this to say “I thought some of our young receivers need to become tougher people, I think we’re fairly soft at that position right now.

I thought up front we played a decent first half, we weren’t very tough the second half. And then the running backs, we could probably get a fast seventh-grader and hit the hole as fast as they did.” This was a pretty harsh but true statement by the coach in hopes to ignite them in their next matchup this weekend versus Eastern Washington.

In the end, the Cougars won the ballgame and they did it with not allowing a point. WSU finished with over 500 yards in offense, and the defense not only allowed no points, but they held the Spartan offense to only 109 yards. Washington State will face the high-powered offense of the Eastern Washington Eagles in Pullman this Saturday at 5:30pm. Fans should be ready for a high scoring game between two quality opponents. Eastern Washington upset WSU 2 years ago 45-42 in an offensive juggernaut. This year shouldn’t be any different. Cougars just hope that their new and improved defensive can slow down the Eagles just enough to earn their 3rd victory of this young season.

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly after WSU’s Performance verss San Jose State:

The Good:

Gardner Minshew is already becoming a legend of the Palouse as he has garnered up a quarterback rating of 136.5 after 2 games. He has thrown for 733 yards and 6 touchdowns with a completion percentage of 66.7% of his passes. He has thrown for 3 interceptions. For them to succeed in the Pac-12 conference, that needs to come down, but for being new to the program after 2 games, we can accept that in the “Air Raid Offense”. He has already established himself as the leader of this offense. He also has established his self as a running quarterback as he has 10 carries for 34 yards after two games and one touchdown. One other fact that stands out, he still hasn’t been sacked.

Running backs James Williams and Freshman Max Borghi have established themselves as a powerful piece to this offense after only 2 games. James has run for 118 yards and a touchdown. He also has caught 14 passes out of the backfield for 2 touchdowns. Borghi, the true Freshman, has ran for 60 yards, caught 7 passes and scored 2 touchdowns as he quietly makes a name for himself in this high-powered offense.

The defense has been solid in both games. It’s been a team effort lead by captain Peyton Pelluer. They have allowed a combined 315 yards and 19 points over the first two games including allowing only 1 touchdown. They have 2 interceptions and 1 fumble recovery. More importantly, they have played from start to finish, not allowing their opponents to move into the endzone. For this to continue into conference play, they will need to continue to put pressure on the QBs like they are now. This Saturday will be a good test for this young Cougar D.

The Bad:

The wide receivers are amazing talent, but they haven’t played a complete game from start to finish. “Uncle Rico” has completed passes to 7 wide receivers over the first 2 games, with only wideout Tay Martin with only more than 10 catches and 2 touchdowns. With this offense they need a wide receiver or two to step up their ballgame. We haven’t seen that over the first two games as not one wideout as played a solid game from beginning to end. This includes running better routes, not missing blocks or dropping passes and getting open. For WSU to excel in Pac-12 play, the receivers better step up their game.

The Ugly:

Their really has not been an ugly for this Cougar team in 2018. They have made mistakes, but none too significant yet. Yes, cut down on the turnovers, run better routes, and decrease their penalties but after 2 games with an entirely new team pretty much, they are playing amazingly well. They will need to ride the back of Minshew and their defense if they are to make this a winning season.

This Cougar right here has high hopes for this team as they will rally in 2018 and win some significant games to bolster their football program. Cougar Nation should be excited if not already. See you in Pullman on Saturday Cougar Fans. It should be a high scoring ballgame with the Cougars coming on top 51-31.

 

 

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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.

News Reporter
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.