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Athlete of the Week: Gardner Minshew II

WSU starting quarterback has led Cougar football to 7-1 start, left career at East Carolina in rearview

Quarterback+Gardner+Minshew+II+poses+with+celebrating+fans+after+the+game+against+University+of+Oregon+on+Oct.+20+at+Martin+Stadium.+Minshew+currently+leads+the+nation+in+passing+with+3%2C183+yards+and+26+passing+touchdowns.+
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Athlete of the Week: Gardner Minshew II

Quarterback Gardner Minshew II poses with celebrating fans after the game against University of Oregon on Oct. 20 at Martin Stadium. Minshew currently leads the nation in passing with 3,183 yards and 26 passing touchdowns.

Quarterback Gardner Minshew II poses with celebrating fans after the game against University of Oregon on Oct. 20 at Martin Stadium. Minshew currently leads the nation in passing with 3,183 yards and 26 passing touchdowns.

RYAN PUGH | DAILY EVERGREEN FILE

Quarterback Gardner Minshew II poses with celebrating fans after the game against University of Oregon on Oct. 20 at Martin Stadium. Minshew currently leads the nation in passing with 3,183 yards and 26 passing touchdowns.

RYAN PUGH | DAILY EVERGREEN FILE

RYAN PUGH | DAILY EVERGREEN FILE

Quarterback Gardner Minshew II poses with celebrating fans after the game against University of Oregon on Oct. 20 at Martin Stadium. Minshew currently leads the nation in passing with 3,183 yards and 26 passing touchdowns.

SHAWN P. O'CONNOR, Evergreen columnist

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WSU quarterback Gardner Minshew II had another spectacular game Saturday, leading the Cougars to their seventh win of the season as they defeated Stanford University 41-38 on the road. Minshew shredded the Cardinal defense, completing 40 of 50 passes for 438 yards and three touchdowns en route to earning Evergreen Athlete of the Week.

Minshew didn’t turn the ball over in Palo Alto and was only sacked once, continuing WSU’s Pac-12 lead in sacks allowed per pass attempt rate. He led a clutch seven-play, 50-yard field goal drive to defeat Stanford and take control of the Pac-12 North.

Minshew’s path to WSU is a unique one. He saw his first collegiate snaps in his sophomore season, where he played seven games for East Carolina University in 2016. He was an average at best quarterback, completing less than 60 percent of his passes while throwing for 1,347 yards, eight touchdowns and four interceptions. His Pirates would finish tied for last in the American Athletic Conference (AAC), with a final record of 3-9. He saw more action his junior year, playing in 10 games for East Carolina.

His numbers improved, but he was by no means an elite quarterback. Minshew completed 57 percent of his passes for 2,140 yards, 16 touchdowns and seven interceptions while leading his team to another last-place tie in the AAC.

His time at East Carolina came to an end. Gardner was all set to transfer to University of Alabama when the young quarterback received a call from WSU Head Coach Mike Leach. Leach convinced Minshew to join WSU, where he could lead the nation in passing and make a name for himself as a star quarterback. He was convinced and hasn’t looked back.

Minshew has torn up the Pac-12 this season, passing for an NCAA-leading 3,183 passing yards. Minshew’s 26 passing touchdowns is good for fifth in the NCAA and his 71 percent completion rate ranks sixth in the NCAA among qualified passers.

Minshew is setting career highs in all statistical categories this season. He is lighting up the scoreboard and has his Cougars on the brink of the Pac-12 North title. WSU is the favorite to win the Pac-12 Conference and Minshew is a huge reason why.

Correction: The subhead of this story has been updated to reflect that Minshew has led Cougar football to a 7-1 start not lead. 

About the Writer
SHAWN P. O'CONNOR, Evergreen reporter

Shawn P. O'Connor is a junior broadcasting major from Oak Harbor, Wash., he worked with his local fire department when he was in high school.

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Athlete of the Week: Gardner Minshew II