Feelin’ the FitzMagic

Gardner Minshew takes after Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick in postgame press conference

Graduate+transfer+quarterback+Gardner+Minshew+II+celebrates+after+the+Cougars%E2%80%99+victory+against+Utah+on+Saturday+at+Martin+Stadium.

PAIGE CAMPBELL | DAILY EVERGREEN FILE

Graduate transfer quarterback Gardner Minshew II celebrates after the Cougars’ victory against Utah on Saturday at Martin Stadium.

JACKSON GARDNER, Evergreen assistant sports editor

Following WSU’s big conference win against the University of Utah, graduate transfer quarterback Gardner Minshew II addressed the media with a bit more swagger than usual.

Minshew sported a pair of aviator sunglasses while senior receiver Kyle Sweet accompanied him with a pair of Ray-Bans.

Minshew appeared to be feeling himself following the Cougars’ first conference win, a win where WSU’s one-year quarterback practically willed his way to the finish line. His final stat line read 455 yards through the air and four total touchdowns — three via passing and one with his legs — to just one interception. His passing yards advanced him into the second-leading passer in the nation.

That’s the kind of game that warrants kicking down the media room door with a pair of aviators on. Well, he didn’t actually kick down the door, but if he wanted to after a performance like that he probably could have gotten away with it.

Without a doubt the flashiest of his four touchdowns was the one he ran for in the second quarter. On the Utes’ 10-yard line Minshew took the snap and, once the internal clock in his head struck zero, took off weaving back and forth from sideline to sideline before ultimately finding an angle to the right pylon. In dramatic Minshew-fashion, he lunged with the ball in his left hand across the goal line as he fell out of bounds to tie the game up at 14-14.

The sunglasses were merely the cherry on top of his stellar night, but they are inspired by an NFL quarterback he has a lot of respect for: Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick.

“I’m a big Fitzmagic guy,” Minshew said. “He’s a grinder and that’s what we’re trying to do around here.”

If you aren’t familiar with “Fitzmagic,” it was the alter ego Fitzpatrick took on as he addressed the Buccaneers media after starting their season 2-0. While clothed in teammate wide receiver DeSean Jackson’s wardrobe, Fitzpatrick entered the media room in aviator sunglasses and a shirt unbuttoned down to his stomach.

But beyond aviator sunglasses and cool facial hair, Minshew and Fitzmagic have something else in common: they like to throw for 400-plus yards. Through four games of the NFL season, Fitzpatrick has slung for over 400 yards on three separate occasions. Minshew has also thrown for 400-plus yards in each of his five games in the Cougars’ season.

It might be a tad early to draw comparisons from a 24-year-old college quarterback to a 35-year-old NFL journeyman quarterback, but if the criteria is strictly based on facial hair and one’s ability to throw for over 400 yards, then I do believe we have a match.