Highly touted freshman Gunner Cruz sees first team reps

Cougars fifth practice also features Gage Gubrud walking around without a boot on his injured left foot



Redshirt sophomore quarterback John Bledsoe, right, hands the ball off to sophomore running back Max Borghi, middle, while senior offensive line Robert Valencia rushes forward to block Tuesday afternoon at Martin Stadium.

JOHN SPELLMAN, Evergreen reporter

Cougar football took the field Saturday for the fifth time this spring as freshman quarterback Gunner Cruz took snaps with the first time offense.

Head Coach Mike Leach said his team competed well in practice but needs to maintain focus throughout.

“I thought we were a little up and down, and I thought we bounced around pretty good,” Leach said. “I think we can be more consistent because too often we will have a bad play that lingers longer than it should or a good play that lingers longer than it should.”

The team began practice at Rogers Field by working on position drills where the quarterbacks threw to the wide receivers, the offensive and defensive lines paired up and the secondary worked on footwork.

Junior defensive end Will Rodgers III said the battle between the offensive and defensive line can get intense at times but its necessary for them to improve.

“Oh it’s competition,” Rodgers said. “We are at each other’s head all practice, but at the end of the day we get mad and they get mad, so we got to go harder. Us at our best and them at their best makes us all better, and we are all one at the end of the day.”

The team then moved over to the field at Martin Stadium where they worked on kickoffs and covering them.

They then transitioned to team drills where the offense went head-to-head against the defense in an energy filled practice.

Of course the battle between the offense and defense featured redshirt senior quarterbacks Trey Tinsley and Anthony Gordon who are fighting to start under center next season.

For the first time this spring, graduate transfer quarterback Gage Gubrud was without the boot he had been wearing to protect his injured left foot. He was able to throw the ball in certain drills as he looks to compete for the starting job next season as well.

Both Tinsley and Gordon continued to impress on Saturday. Gordon carved up the defensive secondary throwing a 50-yard strike to redshirt freshman wide receiver Mitchell Quinn for a touchdown, followed up by what would’ve been a 40-yard touchdown pass to redshirt freshman wide receiver Kassidy Woods before finishing the day by finding junior wide receiver Tay Martin in the end zone.

Tinsley also made some good throws but he got picked off by redshirt junior defensive back Daniel Isom on a highly contested play with senior wide receiver Dezmon Patmon where defensive pass interference probably would have been called if there was a referee.

Perhaps the biggest surprise at Saturday’s practice came when Cruz, a highly touted recruit, took reps with the No. 1 offense for the first time since he has been in Pullman. He had quite a debut as he made some high-quality throws, including an impressive touchdown pass to Quinn.

“I thought it was pretty good for a debut.” Leach said. “It’s always going to be tough and it’s always never going to be perfect, but for the first time out I thought he did pretty good.”

The team returns to the field for practice Tuesday afternoon.