Rating WSU spring game quarterback play 

Ward, Mateer, Brown, who played best? 



QB John Mateer looks down the field with hopes to make a big play, April 22.

BRANDON WILLMAN, Multimedia editor

When football programs hold their spring game, it is the final showcase of the team to fans before summer starts and there is a short hiatus before the fall season. For WSU and the Crimson and Gray spring game, it was a showing of the quarterback room that lacks a completely clear depth chart. 

Last year’s starter Cam Ward is still the favorite to start the 2023 season behind center, John Mateer looks to be solidified at the second-string role and Emmett Brown is about as good as a third-string QB that you can have. 

Even with that being the most likely outcome, it is not out of the realm of possibility that Mateer or Brown will find significant playing time during the 2023 season. With the Crimson and Gray Game being their first and final opportunity to play in front of a significant fanbase in the spring, how did they fare?

Cam Ward

WSU QB Cam Ward attempts to make a throw outside the pocket in first quarter of Spring Game, April 22.

The projected starter certainly had the best showing. Playing in the first half, Ward completed 12-of-16 passes for 259 yards and a touchdown. His 231.6 QB rating was the highest among the three and he looked sharp on his passes. 

While he only played against a full-strength Coug defense for a single series, a series that ended with a turnover on downs, he still played against the strongest defense of the three QBs. 

Even with a revolving door of offensive weapons to work with, Ward said that the key to his and the team’s success was the ability to get chemistry with all of his teammates. In his six drives at QB, he led his squad to four touchdowns and moved the ball well through the air and on the ground. 

“Consistency, we had a lot of consistency. The ones, twos, or threes, not a lot of people on the rep count, so we got a lot of people to play with, you know, people who they wouldn’t normally play with and we really didn’t have any bad chemistry,” Ward said postgame.

Although he spent the game on the field, head coach Jake Dickert praised the development of the QB from last season to the spring. 

“I think his accuracy has really improved and I think his leadership is way better than where it’s ever been,” head coach Jake Dickert said postgame.

John Mateer 

Coming in, it would take a massive game to surpass Ward as the starter. Mateer attempted some tough throws all throughout the game and made several impressive reads. 

The box score shows that he went 16-of-27 for 236 yards and a touchdown, good for a QB rating of 144.9, but those stats do not tell the full story. He was much more precise than the 59% completion percentage shows, as he started 5-of-5 and 8-of-10, respectively. 

Playing from behind, Mateer attempted to air the ball out more and with the other side of the ball essentially playing pass-heavy defense, his numbers took the expected slight dip. 

While it was not necessarily the perfect showing he may have expected for himself, he proved that if he comes into a game during the season, he is more than capable to hold his own. 

Emmett Brown

The third and final QB to get significant playing time, Brown finished 11-of-14 for 165 yards for a QB rating of 177.6. His first two completions went for 25 and 39 yards, and just four of his 11 completions ended with gains under 10 yards. 

Just a redshirt freshman, once Ward leaves WSU, he will be locked into a battle with Mateer for the starting job. Both show impressive arm talent and the ability to lead an offense, so the Coug QB room is in good hands. 

Honorable Mention 

WSU football players Lincoln Victor and Jaylen Jenkins celebrate a touchdown during the WSU football spring game, Saturday, April 22, 2023, in Pullman, Wash.

Discussing the QB play from the game would be incomplete without mentioning the best statistical performance passing. Lincoln Victor’s 486.4 QB rating shatters the second-closest rating. 

His 1-of-1 passing performance for 46 yards is outdone by no other QB, a sign that his high school days of being behind center may be put to good use for the WSU offense.

Victor’s passing was one of two receivers to throw the ball, as Leyton Smithson also attempted several passes on trick plays, going 2-for-3 for 37 yards. 

“They throw some seeds, I’m not gonna cap. But you know Linc had his quarterback days in high school, but you know I feel like I’m a better quarterback than both of [Victor and Smithson],” Ward said postgame.