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Gardner Minshew’s NFL Draft hype is real

From relative unknown to potential draft pick, the WSU QB’s story is bananas in a season full of them.

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NCAA Football: Oregon at Washington State James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

In this absolutely crazy fairy tale of a season, perhaps nothing is as stunning as the ascension of Washington State Cougars quarterback Gardner Minshew II.

Everyone knows he was Supposed To Go To Alabama And Learn From Nick Saban™, but the part that I think is underplayed is that he left a horrible program at East Carolina — his third school — because he hadn’t really done enough the last two years to ensure he’d be able to keep his starting job over a hotshot incoming freshman.

Now, after just seven games at WSU, he’s a legitimate NFL prospect.

The Spokesman-Review’s Theo Lawson caught up with a trio of college quarterback/NFL Draft experts to pick their brains about what they see in Minshew. The resulting analysis is absolutely fascinating. It’s presented in Q&A format, which I’m not typically fond of, but in this case, it’s enlightening to read the full responses, which carry a lot of the voice of each person.

First up was Trent Dilfer, former NFL quarterback and current Elite 11 QB camp head coach:

I don’t think it’s unusual to see a fifth-year guy have success and be better than the option they have on their present team, but to be dominant – that’s what he’s done, he’s been dominant this year. The quarterback of that system carries a very large weight. You’re doing a lot and he’s done it exceptionally well. And what I like, listening to people who’ve been around the program, it’s more than just how he’s playing, it’s his leadership, it’s his charisma, it’s his energy. Things that are really [hard to] quantify, but equal wins. And he has all that stuff. And I’d probably put a higher weight on any of that stuff than any evaluator out there. ...

I have him as a late second, third-round pick. ... I think he’s a potential NFL starter. That’s where I put those guys that don’t have extreme traits. But I’ve seen a lot of guys lesser than him go in those rounds the last few years.

Then, Yogi Roth, Pac-12 Networks analyst:

I’ve always said this this year about this team, man, is that if there’s one team I could follow all year long it would be this one. Based on what happened with Tyler (Hilinski), based on the small community, based on Mike Leach and his personality, and based on this transfer quarterback. Now you see what he’s doing on the field and with his persona. It’s like the football gods said, you need to go to the place that needs you the most. And that’s Pullman, Washington. And that’s what he’s done. And I really think it’s beautiful, the whole story.

Finally, Rob Rang, NFL Draft analyst:

You know who he reminded me of – and now it’s going to sound even cliché because of the way they’re dressing – but it’s Ryan Fitzpatrick. He a little bit shorter and he’s got kind of a thick build, he’s got an underrated arm and he’s just got some moxie to him that has always stood out. So the reason I hesitate with that comparison is because there’s a lot of people out there that are going to suggest Ryan Fitzpatrick isn’t very good. But when you’re going from Harvard to the NFL and you’ve played as long as he has, then that’s a heckuva football player. And so the same thing with Minshew, he’s had success wherever he’s gone and he does have some moxie, does have some personality to quickly win over his teammates, so I like all those things. And then just physically speaking, they’re similar type players in terms of their build, in terms of their arm, in terms of their accuracy and their touch.

There’s so much more in there — nearly 5,000 words! Go read it.

And, for what it’s worth: this all still blows me away. It’s not just the surprising success of this season; sometimes, I sit back and think about the confluence of events, both horrible and fortuitous, that led to Minshew landing at WSU. It’s sad and exciting at the same time ... which, I guess, is life in a nutshell.

Football Links

WSU at Stanford: Brady Quinn sees Minshew v Card D as one sided -
CBS FOOTBALL ANALYST and former Notre Dame quarterback Brady Quinn says Stanford, despite the home-field advantage, being favored over Washington State "doesn't make a

Is James Williams the most unsung Washington State player? -
IS JAMES WILLIAMS the most unsung hero on the 14th-ranked football in the nation? ESPN thinks so. In their compilation this week of the most under-the-radar, unsung heroes

Pac-12 football preview: Can Washington State keep up hot streak against Stanford?
Here are some things to watch in the Pac-12 Conference this weekend.

King’s Keys: Playing for the Pac-12 – The Stanford Daily
No. 24 Stanford football (5-2, 3-1 Pac-12) got the win they needed last week at Arizona State. The Cardinal now control their own destiny in the Pac-12 North and will have a chance to play for the Rose Bowl if they win out. - If I Were A Betting Man: Week 9 picks
There is exactly one remaining undefeated team in college football … against the spread. And its not any of the actual undefeated teams in college football. It's WSU.

Football Round Table: Mike Leach and the Cougars – The Stanford Daily
The Daily’s King Jemison, Julio Ballista and Shan Reddy share their thoughts on the unstoppable Cougar offensive, the recent history between the Cardinal and Washington State and the woes of the Stanford offense.

Washington State Cougars vs. Stanford Cardinal, 10/25/18 Predictions & Odds
The over has been a great play in WAZZU games. The over is 8-2 in the Cougars’ last eight games overall, is 17-5 in their last 22 road games, and is 6-2 in their last eight games coming off a win. On the other side, the over has cashed in six of the Cardinal’s last eight home games when playing an opponent with a winning road record.

A day with Mike Leach: Unfazed by ESPN hoopla, WSU coach remains inquisitive and eccentric | The Seattle Times
The Seattle Times spent a day in the life of WSU coach Mike Leach. Despite his many obligations and the mounting pressure ahead of the Cougars' big game vs. Oregon and the ESPN "College GameDay" hype that came with it, Leach was still the curious and personable man he is portrayed to be.

College football staff picks for Week 9 including Georgia-Florida, WSU-Stanford - USA Today

For one week, anyway, Washington State tops my ballot for The O's Pac-12 Power Rankings |
Are the Cougars setting themselves up for an inevitable crash and burn? We'll get an indication this week at Stanford.

Preview: No. 14 Washington State visits No. 24 Stanford
This game matches up two of the three teams in the Pac-12 North with one conference loss. The winner will be in position to challenge Washington for a spot in the conference title game, while the loser will be in a big hole.

Washington State Cougars vs. Stanford Cardinal Prediction and Preview - Athlon Sports
A team that has exceeded expectations all season long — Washington State was picked to finish fifth in the North in the preseason media poll — must do so again. The Cougars arrive in Stanford for a marquee matchup, with the winner taking control of its fate in the divisional race. The Cardinal rebounded from back-to-back losses to Notre Dame and Utah last week with a 20-13 victory at Arizona State.

Video: Washington State defensive coordinator Tracy Claeys post practice Oct. 24 - The Spokesman-Review - Oct. 24, 2018
Serving the Inland Northwest since 1883. provides breaking and in-depth coverage of Spokane area news, sports and community.

Will Cougs win the Pac-12? Not saying that (seriously, not yet) but the signs are exciting | The Seattle Times
Washington State is the only Pac-12 North team without a division loss. Yet there is a tough road game looming, and the Apple Cup. It's fair to celebrate the Cougars' success and foresee more ahead.

WSU Athletics Links

Back on Track, Cougars Run Past Cal, 4-2 - Washington State University
On a wet night on the Palouse, the Washington State soccer team (11-5-0, 4-5-0) used a second half surge to beat California (5-10-2, 1-7-1) as the Cougars scored two unanswered goals to take a 4-2 win Thursday evening at Lower Soccer Field.

College volleyball: No. 19 Washington State sweeps Utah on the road | The Spokesman-Review
McKenna Woodford tallied a match-high 17 kills to go with five blocks and Penny Tusa added 15 kills to propel the 19th-ranked Washington State Cougars to a 25-23, 25-18, 25-21 sweep over the Utah Utes in Pac-12 Conference volleyball on Wednesday.

No. 19 Volleyball Sweeps Through Utah For Third Straight Win - Washington State University
Tusa, and Woodford lead the offensive attack in 3-0 victory.

Hristova Named to 2019 Cheryl Miller Watch List - Washington State University
The junior is one of 20 named to the watch list.

Celebrate Halloween with Washington State Athletics - Washington State University
The annual event will take place Monday, Oct. 29 from 6-7 p.m., prior to women's basketball's exhibition game at Beasley Coliseum.

Lisa Roman Named One of the Top-15 Rowers in the World - Washington State University
The Cougar alum has been recognized for her international success.

Cougars Ready To Run At Pac-12 Championships - Washington State University
WSU looks to race by conference competition at Stanford Golf Course.

Cougars Go West to Portland Fall Classic - Washington State University
Washington State University Rowing will travel to Portland to race in the Portland Fall Classic.

Other stuff

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