In praising the accuracy of his quarterback, Washington State coach Mike Leach on Monday wondered aloud how many consecutive completions he’d have thrown last week if not for a receiver’s drop.
“Probably about 30,” Leach said at his weekly news conference.
Actually, Anthony Gordon threw 24 straight catchable balls at the start of the Cougars’ 58-7 rout of New Mexico State on Saturday night. The drop occurred on his 16th pass, and Gordon then completed his next eight to finish 22-for-23 for the first half.
Gordon’s accuracy in his first career start for WSU was just one aspect of his game that impressed his coach.
“I thought he was really good at going through his reads — he went through his reads nearly every play,” Leach said. “I thought the checks he made were sharp. And then one thing he did that he’s been doing in practice is, the ball comes off his hand quickly and accurately, so then as a result receivers get more yards after the catch.”
The Cougars (1-0) play another nonleague home game Saturday (Pac-12 Network) against Northern Colorado (0-1) of the FCS. Kickoff is 2 p.m. at Martin Stadium.
If Gordon had indeed completed 24 consecutive passes, he’d have broken the school record of 21 set three years ago by Luke Falk and the Pac-12 single-game record of 23 established in 2004 by Aaron Rodgers of California. The fifth-year senior also would have flirted with the national FBS record of 26, by Dominique Davis of East Carolina in 2011.
Gage Gubrud and Trey Tinsley also saw action at quarterback for the Cougars, and Leach said “It appears to me they’re pretty neck-and-neck” for the backup role.
Gubrud, the graduate transfer from Eastern Washington, overcame an errant shotgun snap on his first play as a Cougar to throw a 9-yard touchdown pass on that possession. A subsequent Gubrud-led drive ended with a punt, ending the Cougars’ streak of 10 straight scoring drives to start the game.
“I just think he has to improve on communication and reading the field,” Leach said.
Among the impressive starting debuts for the Cougs was that of receiver Rodrick Fisher, a second-year freshman who opened the scoring with a 41-yard touchdown on his first catch of the season.
“I thought he played fast — that’s one thing Rodrick Fisher always does, is play at full speed,” Leach said. “He doesn’t waste any time playing slow.”
Fisher’s emergence has created a logjam at the X position, where Tay Martin and Calvin Jackson Jr. topped the depth chart early in preseason camp. Leach prefers a two-man rotation at each receiver spot, and said he hadn’t decided whether to make an exception at X.
“Those guys are kind of playing keep-away with us,” he said, meaning no two players are establishing themselves as superior to the third.
The Cougars have now won three straight season openers, after losing their first five of the Leach coaching tenure. If the coach is approaching these games any differently, he’s not saying as much.
“I don’t know if anything’s solved, but we’re a better team,” he said. “I mean, we’ve got better players. The other thing, as far as work ethic and a sense of purpose and working together — there’s a sense of that, where everybody’s on the same page and pushes one another in that direction.”
Dale Grummert may reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (208) 848-2290.