WSU to face former QB at Arizona

An elite passing game versus an elite defense



Washington State University quarterback Jayden de Laura (4) watches from the sidelines during a college football game at Martin Stadium, Saturday, Oct. 9, 2021, in Pullman, Wash.

TREVOR JUNT, Evergreen deputy sports editor

After a stretch of four games in which they lost to four top-25 ranked opponents, WSU is coming off two wins against Stanford and Arizona State University.

WSU will face Arizona Saturday and will try to match their win record from last season of seven wins.

Prepare to witness three to four hours of drama television. This football game has some extra spice behind it.

Jayden de Laura, the former WSU quarterback of the past two years, transferred to play for Arizona. To announce his transfer, he tweeted “It’s personal.” In a post-game press conference, de Laura discussed his time at WSU. 

“Just watch,” de Laura said. “When I was there with Rolo [Nick Rolovich, coach Stutzmannn [Craig Stutzmann], and the other guys that got fired, they kind of gave me the opportunity to grow and stay on the team. With what I went through. And I appreciate that. And this game, it’s personal. It’s personal.”

De Laura and was evidently upset when the coach that courted him was fired.

de Laura has had a great season thus far, throwing for 3,128 yards with 24 touchdowns and eight interceptions along with three rushing touchdowns. The quarterback never lacked talent, it was his mentality and decision-making that were always doubted.

Arizona is an incredibly strong passing team, their top two leading receivers, Jacob Cowing with 74 receptions for 964 yards and seven touchdowns, and Dorian Singer with 54 receptions for 838 yards and five touchdowns.  

Arizona is also coming off a huge upset as they beat UCLA 34-28.

The WSU defense will have their hands full Saturday. WSU head coach Jake Dickert has called their secondary thin in the past. He said that it is needed to create more depth in the secondary, but that communication has been high with this group and gave credit to Armani Marsh for commanding them.

“Obviously they have one of the best pass games in the country. We’re facing two of the top 10 pass offenses in the country the last two weeks. So defensively we’re going to be extremely challenged on not giving up big plays,” Dickert said. “Anytime you talk about passing offense, you need to match that with a four-down rush. I think we have the tools and the pieces and the guys to affect the passer the next two weeks, so that’s going to be important.”

The WSU defense is the strong point of the team, allowing under 20 points per game. The front seven, headed by Daiyan Henley and Brennan Jackson is incredibly strong. They have only allowed 235 passing yards per game and 122 rushing yards per game. The defense also ranks first in the Pac-12 by causing more than two turnovers a game.

The offense has changed quite a bit and has become more of a balanced offense with a strong running game. Cam Ward has thrown for 395 yards and three touchdowns in the last two weeks combined. The WSU rushing attack has combined for 443 yards and six touchdowns in the past two weeks. For WSU to be successful against Arizona, the rushing game will need to continue its success.  

WSU recruited Ward when de Laura was still on the team, so there is drama caused by both sides. There are certain views on last year’s bowl game as some claim de Laura gave up on the team during halftime.

Dickert, however, said that he does not believe in external motivators. No focus on anything else but the upcoming game, watching tape of both sides. He reiterated that he does not want his team focusing on just the WSU versus de Laura competition.

WSU are four-point favorites and ESPN gives them a 62.7% chance of beating Arizona.

The Cougars will play the Wildcats at 11 a.m. Saturday at Arizona Stadium. This matchup will be broadcast on the Pac-12 Network.