Forever is composed of nows.
GameDay is, finally, in Pullman. A week of celebrating the arrival of the show we have been waiting over a decade for has been epic and wonderful to watch unfold. Combined with the departure of a much beloved and revered figure in Bob Robertson, it has been a busy few days amongst the freshly harvested fields of the Palouse.
Lest we forget, there’s a game at the end of the week. A pretty damn important one at that.
The 12th-ranked Oregon Ducks roll into Pullman fresh off a win over the previously seventh ranked Washington Huskies (we should mention it snaps UW’s two game winning streak against Oregon, one shorter than WSU currently enjoys against the Dawgs “bitter rival”), living up to what I and many others considered some lofty preseason expectations. Outside of an inexplicable loss to the Stanford Cardinal, the Ducks have rolled along to five wins now halfway through their season.
With the final reveal of the California Golden Bears as a likely early season fraud, this will be the Ducks’ first true road test; facing off against the newly minted top-25 Cougars. Combined with what is sure to be a raucous and totally sober crowd, this may be the most hostile Martin Stadium environment the Ducks have faced in quite some time.
It’s quite an important game, too! With one loss in the conference each, a head-to-head win over one or the other could be very important come late November. Oregon’s defense under Jim Leavitt has, as you would expect, improved after he stood pat in Eugene following Willie Taggert’s broken lease agreement. Though they are ranked 91st in S&P+, their passing defense is second best in the nation according to the same metric. I suspect, though, it has more to do with the distinct lack of good passing offenses Oregon has seen and WSU’s will, by far, be the best.
If we are using counting statistics, Oregon’s passing defense actually ranks as second worst in the conference at nearly 240 yards per game though they have picked off nine passes. With an excellent rushing defense by any metric, Washington State will, as usual, get their work done through the air. The conference’s leading passer, luckily, has one hell of a guy at X to throw to.
Watching the blossoming of Davontavean Martin over the last year and a half has, truly, been a treat. Add in the relationship that he and Gardner Minshew II have built and his play this season has been a sight to behold. His ability to get separation at the last moment, sometimes with a subtle shove or arm extension that’s reminiscent of 9 God himself, Gabe Marks, has been superb. He’s as dependable as anyone on the back shoulder throw against the sideline and with his history of basketball (even an offer for it from Tulane!), he has become yet another go-to receiver in the Air Raid.
Any time you spot Martin one-on-one without safety help, you can be sure Minshew has too and that the ball will likely be heading that direction. He’s as dependable as they’ve come at Washington State and, as an added bonus, he’s just a sophomore with, at the very least, one-and-a-half more seasons. And tomorrow, he’s the weapon WSU will need to lean on in what could be one hell of a shootout with the best offense to set foot in Martin so far this year.
“You’re off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So... get on your way!”
Tay Martin, the most important person against Oregon.