The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

Cougs 2023 success relies on how good Cam Ward can be

Ward feels like a ‘different QB’ from last year
WSU quarterback Cameron Ward warms up before an NCAA football game against Arizona State, Nov. 12.

Named to both the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award and Reese’s Senior Bowl watch lists, WSU quarterback Cam Ward has lofty expectations for his performance from the national media. 

After coming to Pullman from Incarnate Ward last season, he immediately made his presence felt in an All-Pac-12 Conference Honorable Mention season. In 13 games, he had 3,231 yards through the air with 23 touchdowns to nine interceptions. Adding five TD on the ground, Ward was a dual-threat with the ability to extend plays.

His skill set and statistical output have him as one of many QBs that make up a talented Pac-12 Conference. If he were to win the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, he would be the first Coug to win since Gardner Minshew II in 2018. 

The expectations are nothing new for the man who made the jump from FCS to the face of a Power Five school just a year ago, and that chip on his shoulder is shared across the team. 

“I feel like everyone has a chip on their shoulder, all the way from the starters to the fourth and fifth-string. I feel like everyone has something to prove,” Ward said at the beginning of Fall Camp. 

Head coach Jake Dickert said that Ward specifically makes it a point to pursue and do his best to help the team win, holding similar expectations for himself that the national media is for 2023. 

“He puts a lot of pressure on himself but I’ve been really pleased with where he’s at,” Dickert said. 

Ward’s success coincides with the team winning, as in all three games (Idaho, Colorado State and California) where he threw at least three TD the team won. In many other games, he threw a pair of TDs, and in the games where he and the team limited turnovers, they came out on top. 

Even in many losses, he was a major factor in the Cougs nearly pulling off big upsets. Against then-No. 15 ranked Oregon and then-No. 14 ranked Utah, Ward had his two highest completion percentages of the year, 77.1% and 87.1%, respectively. 

WSU lost those two games by a total of seven points (four against Utah and three against Oregon), nearly pulling off two major upsets against Conference foes. 

In the two games when Ward averaged more than 4.0 yards a carry on the ground (7.6 yards against Stanford and 7.4 yards against Arizona), the Cougs won by double-digits. 

While the team has strong pieces surrounding the QB to win games even when he is not his sharpest, his good games usually mean that WSU is able to compete with anyone they are up against. 

Luckily for Dickert and the rest of his staff, Ward has played his best at the fall camp. In the final fall scrimmage, he threw four TD while completing 13 of his 16 attempted passes for 194 yards. 

Cam Ward was a bright spot during the open scrimmage, throwing for multiple touchdowns, Aug. 19.

While he looked good during the game, Dickert said once he went over the film of the game, Ward looked even sharper. 

“I thought Cam was good in person but I thought he was really good on tape. Just his accuracy, the way he’s navigating the pocket, is way better than he ever did last year,” Dickert said. 

Dickert said Ward knows that expectations are far from just the stats and that the bottom line is accountability and how he has to hold everyone around him accountable. That is something that he has already shown to do, recognizing the areas where he needs to improve to be the best QB possible for the team. 

I’ve got a lot to improve on still. The scramble drill I had to DT I dropped my arm angle which caused the ball to sail down, I had a couple missed reads, a couple of bad calls I could have checked us into better plays, and also I think we stayed above the chains today. We stayed to the script of what we wanted to do, we didn’t get behind the chains much today and if we keep doing that we’ll play some good football,” Ward said.  

He will get his shot to prove his improvement and his national stock is justified first at 4 p.m. Sept. 2 in Fort Collins, Colorado, as the Cougs travel to take on Colorado State to open the 2023 season. A week later, he’ll make his debut for the home crowd as Wisconsin comes to town at 4:30 p.m. Sept. 9 to play at Martin Stadium.

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About the Contributors
BRANDON WILLMAN, Editor-in-chief
Brandon Willman is a junior multimedia journalism student from Vancouver, Washington. He started working as a sportswriter for the Daily Evergreen in Fall 2022 and worked as copy editor in spring 2023. Brandon was elected to be EIC starting in summer 2023 and enjoys watching sports, backpacking, and watching horror movies.
COLE QUINN, Evergreen Sports Photographer
Cole Quinn is a photographer and columnist for the Daily Evergreen. Cole primarily shoots sports for the Daily Evergreen and writes album reviews in his spare time. Cole is a junior broadcast production major and sports communication minor from Snoqualmie, Washington. Cole started working for the Evergreen in the fall of 2020 as a photographer. Cole was the Photo Editor during his sophomore year and Deputy Photo Editor for the fall 2022 semester.