Minshew shines in second scrimmage

One columnist breaks down the important information from Saturday’s practice



Graduate transfer quarterback Gardner Minshew II throws a pass during the first day of fall camp at Martin Stadium on Aug. 3. Minshew is expected to be the starter.

JACKSON GARDNER, Evergreen reporter

In the second scrimmage of WSU football’s fall camp, we learned perhaps what we already knew: graduate transfer Gardner Minshew II is separating himself as the Cougars starting quarterback.

His stats wouldn’t suggest he distanced himself as the starter, but the command he showed with the first team offense was clearly superior to those who took snaps with the first offense.

In the first of four series for Minshew, he led the starting offense on a six-play touchdown drive where he completed all four of his passes. Redshirt junior running back James Williams capped off the drive with a 20-yard touchdown run by bouncing outside to the left and picking up a block from senior wide receiver Kyle Sweet, which allowed him to find the end zone.

“I thought we moved the ball good, started off good. Then we started to struggle down in the red zone,” Minshew said of his offense’s performance. “It’s kind of a fine line. We struggle, but the defense is making plays, so there’s some give-and-take there.”

Minshew no doubt performed the best out of the four quarterbacks who repped Saturday, but redshirt junior quarterback Anthony Gordon gave Minshew a run for his money with four total touchdowns.

On the first play of Gordon’s first drive, Sweet slipped his way past redshirt sophomore safety Makiah Gilmer down the seam and Gordon hit him in stride for a touchdown. It was the first of two first-play touchdowns from Gordon.

However on the ensuing drive, Gordon had the same opportunity for a long touchdown, but missed sophomore receiver Jamire Calvin by mere inches. Then a sack from redshirt freshman Fa’avae Fa’avae and a pass breakup from redshirt junior safety Deion Singleton would cause the drive to fold.

Freshman quarterback Cammon Cooper, who saw on Saturday the most playing time  he has seen all of fall camp, took drives five and six with a less than impressive performance. His first series ended with three rushes from redshirt freshman Caleb Perry and a completion to graduate student receiver Robert Lewis, but the result was a turnover on downs.

On Cooper’s second series, it looked as if the fate of the drive would be similar to his first; however, a sack that forced a third and long situation set up Cooper’s only touchdown and one of the finer plays from the afternoon. Cooper sensed pressure coming from his left and stepped up into the pocket to evade the rusher, then delivered a strike to freshman receiver Kassidy Woods, who found separation running up the hashes.

The biggest play for the Cougars’ defense came during a red zone period following Cooper’s touchdown, where Cooper looked to find his receiver on a crossing route. However, redshirt freshman nickelback Damion Lee undercut the route and took it to the house for the defense’s only score of the afternoon. Perry attempted to chase down the play, but Lee received help from senior nickelback Hunter Dale, who made an impromptu entrance from the sidelines and planted Perry on the turf.

Nonetheless, the Cougars’ starting redshirt sophomor linebacker Jahad Woods wasn’t impressed with their play.

“I’d say a C-,” Woods said when he graded the defense’s performance. “We didn’t play to our best potential. We have a lot to improve on, but we’ll get there.”

Defensive coordinator Tracy Claeys agreed with Woods to an extent but thought he may have been a bit over critical.

“For the first group, no, I don’t agree with that,” Claeys said in regard to Woods’ grade. “But the second group, yeah. I mean, we got some guys in there that can play, but as a group the offense is way ahead when it comes to their twos versus our twos.”

Redshirt junior Trey Tinsley made his first appearance late in the scrimmage and struggled to get his offense in motion. Tinsley entered his throwing motion on back-to-back plays but lost his grip mid-throw and fumbled twice, one of which he was able to recover himself.

But when Tinsley got in the red zone he was able to convert for six points on three occasions. The most aesthetically pleasing of the three came on a 14-yard pass to redshirt junior wide receiver Brandon Arconado, who acrobatically leapt around to find the ball placed right on his numbers in the back left corner of the end zone.

Opportunities for WSU running backs to leave an impression on the ground were few and far between, but both redshirt junior James Williams and freshman Max Borghi had notable runs.

Williams, on his first rush of the afternoon, took the handoff right. In typical James Williams-fashion, he attempted to hurdle a tackler but was upended anyway.

Borghi, who only stands at 5-feet-10-inches and 194 pounds, got the ball running left and found himself in a one-on-one with freshman safety D’angelo McKenzie. Instead of going around him, Borghi lowered his shoulder and went right through McKenzie, managing to pick up a couple more yards before he was eventually brought down.