As Mike Leach enters his eighth season as the head coach of the Washington State Cougars, nobody should be surprised by the team’s potent offense, especially with the weapons WSU has returning.
Of the 39 touchdowns scored through the air last season, 34 of them were caught by 2019 returnees, including eight both by Easop Winston Jr. and Davontavean Martin.
At the most important position, two guys were locked in a battle for QB1 until Anthony Gordon won the job during preseason camp over graduate transfer Gage Gubrud. That’s a significant development.
The wide receivers are stacked and return all but one regular from last year. Max Borghi will take the top running back spot now that James Williams is seeking a pro football career, and the offensive line, which was outstanding last year, has to replace a first round NFL Draft pick but is expected to be strong once again.
It’s our annual offense preview, and this year we’re sharing our comfort level and a guy to keep an eye on. Comfort levels go like this:
- 1 (think Loren Langley lining up a field goal)
- 5 (think WSU vs. Arizona’s 2018 defense)
For reference, WSU’s offense was no. 13 in S&P+ last year (you’ll have to click the “Wazzu” tab)
|Gage Gubrud||"Graduate Student"||6'2, 208 lbs.|
|Trey Tinsley||RS Senior||6'3, 215 lbs.|
|Anthony Gordon||RS Senior||6'3, 210 lbs.|
|John Bledsoe||RS Sophomore||6'3, 215 lbs.|
|Cammon Cooper||RS Freshman||6'4, 216 lbs.|
|Gunner Cruz||Freshman||6'5, 229 lbs.|
|Aaron Angelos||Freshman||6'0, 172 lbs.|
Back in January, Liam Ryan tweeted this:
Y’all don’t have to believe in the QB’s we have right now. Keep listening to the transfer rumors because we all trust the guys we have here.— Liam Ryan (@liamryan63) January 11, 2019
Turns out Ryan was downright prophetic.
That tweet came when Gubrud’s name was floated as a possible WSU graduate transfer. A few weeks later, Gubrud made it official.
An injury kept Gubrud from most of spring football, giving Gordon a big advantage. A good spring game followed by an excellent preseason camp and what do you know? Gordon is the guy.
Gordon doesn’t have much experience, but he did have success during his one year in junior college, where he teamed with current WSU wide receiver Easop Winston Jr.
Comfort Level: 3.5 - Gordon has impressed since the Spring Game back in April. This is his fourth season in the program and he should have a good grasp of Mike Leach’s offense. His performance in recent scrimmages and 11-on-11 periods is encouraging.
The last two high-profile FCS-to-FBS graduate transfers were Vernon Adams and Dakota Prukop. The former did well, the latter not so much. Gubrud could trend either way, but right now he’s the No. 2 guy.
Keep an eye on: Anthony Gordon. Many seemed to assume Gubrud would be the starter, but Gordon has put up a nice fight during preseason practices and won the job. It makes for a great story—the former JC quarterback originally brought in for depth purposes wins the job after a highly regarded graduate transfer arrives the spring before his senior season. Oh, also: Gordon was a New York Mets draft pick back in 2015. Expect to hear that a hundred times a game during the broadcast.
2019 Running Backs
|Deon McIntosh||RS Junior||6'0, 190 lbs.|
|Clay Markoff*||RS Junior||5'9, 227 lbs.|
|Cole Dubots||RS Sophomore||6'1, 200 lbs.|
|Max Borghi||Sophomore||5'10, 197 lbs.|
|Blessing Leiato||RS Freshman||5'11, 205 lbs.|
|Jouvensly Bazil||Freshman||5'10, 180 lbs.|
|Braeden Potter||Freshman||6'0, 212 lbs.|
With James Williams on a quest for a professional football career, that leaves sophomore Max Borghi to lead the way. He scored 12 total touchdowns last season as a true freshman and ran guys over left and right.
Mike Leach’s best teams at WSU have had a solid one-two punch at running back (and sometimes one-two-three), and Notre Dame Fighting Irish (via East Mississippi Community College) transfer Deon McIntosh is presumed to be that guy, although former Clay Markoff, previously officially as a fullback shares that backup spot on the depth chart at RB along with true freshman Jouvensly Bazil. It would be highly unusual for three players to see significant time, let alone four, so we’ll se how it shakes out.
Remember: It’s running backs who get the most touches in this offense. Borghi had 125 last season as the No. 2 guy.
Comfort level: 3 - Borghi is the only reason this number isn’t a one. If you’re wondering how WSU suddenly lost its depth, here are the running backs WSU signed in each class dating back to 2015 (they’d all be eligible this season):
- 2015: James Williams - left one year early to enter the NFL Draft
- 2016: Romello Harris - left the team after one season
- 2017: Caleb Perry - left the team after one season
- 2018: Max Borghi - STUD
- 2019: Jouvensly Bazil and Jamir Thomas - Bazil is with the team while Thomas didn’t qualify
This is why Cole Dubots went from linebacker to running back, and why the Cougs snagged McIntosh late in the recruiting cycle.
Keep an eye on: McIntosh - Borghi can’t carry the entire load, and after Williams left a year early and Thomas became ineligible, the RB depth chart looked iffy. The Cougs will need solid production from McIntosh.
2019 Wide Receivers
|Brandon Arconado||"Graduate Student"||6'0, 193 lbs.|
|Easop Winston Jr.||RS Senior||6'0, 192 lbs.|
|Dezmon Patmon||Senior||6'4, 228 lbs.|
|Calvin Jackson Jr.||Senior||5'10, 185 lbs.|
|Renard Bell||RS Junior||5'8, 162 lbs.|
|Tay Martin||Junior||6'3, 186 lbs.|
|Jamire Calvin||Junior||5'10, 160 lbs.|
|Travell Harris||RS Sophomore||5'9, 180 lbs.|
|Kassidy Woods||RS Freshman||6'4, 225 lbs.|
|Lucas Bacon||RS Freshman||6'2, 207 lbs.|
|Brandon Gray||RS Freshman||6'5, 202 lbs.|
|Rodrick Fisher||RS Freshman||6'2, 195 lbs.|
|Mitchell Quinn||RS Freshman||5'11, 170 lbs.|
|Donovan Ollie||Freshman||6'3, 210 lbs.|
|Billy Pospisil III||Freshman||5'10, 192 lbs.|
|Konner Beavers||Freshman||5'10, 180 lbs.|
|Zion Sorani||Freshman||6'0, 160 lbs.|
This position is stacked. The two players on the right side (the Z position) — Dezmon Patmon and Easop Winston Jr. — offer different skill sets that will make opposing defensive coordinators weep. The guys on the left (the X position) — Tay Martin and Calvin Jackson Jr. — could do the same. And then on the inside, established guys such as juniors Renard Bell and Jamire Calvin can cause havoc. Calvin’s availability is uncertain, and senior Brandon Arconado has stepped in and should be a primary receiver this season. Travell Harris showed flashes last season and enters this year as a third-year sophomore. Throw in redshirt freshman Kassidy Woods as a massive, tight end-like inside receiver and defenses will have to spend extra time preparing for WSU’s receiving corps. Oh, and don’t forget redshirt freshman Rodrick Fisher, the third string X receiver who destroyed DBs during fall camp. CAN’T WAIT!
Comfort level: 5 - Mike Leach plays eight guys and if one goes down, there are promising players behind them.
Keep an eye on: Kassidy Woods and Brandon Arconado. Mike Leach has never had a tight end at WSU, but Woods might be the closest thing to it. Arconado—the redshirt senior and one-time walk-on—is always lauded in practice reports and by coaches but has only seen spot duty in games. He’s been in the top eight with Calvin sidelined and will have a lot of fans rooting for him if he cracks the lineup on a regular basis. Calvin still hasn’t practiced, so it’s probably safe to assume Arconado will get plenty of playing time.
By the way, should Calvin’s injury take him out for the entire season or all but four games, he still has a redshirt to use. That’s something to ponder.
2019 Offensive Line
|Frederick Mauigoa||Senior||6'3, 310 lbs.|
|Robert Valencia||Senior||6'6, 300 lbs.|
|Liam Ryan||RS Junior||6'5, 300 lbs.|
|Josh Watson||RS Junior||6'4, 300 lbs.|
|Jimmy Price||Junior||6'5, 300 lbs.|
|Brian Greene||RS Sophomore||6'3, 300 lbs.|
|Seth Yost||RS Sophomore||6'7, 305 lbs.|
|Abraham Lucas||RS Sophomore||6'7, 324 lbs.|
|Jarrett Kingston||RS Freshman||6'5, 296 lbs.|
|Austin Martin||RS Freshman||6'2, 292 lbs.|
|Hunter Mayginnes||RS Freshman||6'5, 307 lbs.|
|Cade Beresford||RS Freshman||6'7, 297 lbs.|
|Syr Riley||RS Freshman||6'4, 317 lbs.|
|Blake McDonald||RS Freshman||6'5, 295 lbs.|
|Quinn McCarthy||Freshman||6'5, 277 lbs.|
|Jon Denny||Freshman||6'6, 320 lbs.|
|Ma'ake Fafita||Freshman||6'5, 265 lbs.|
|Patrick Utschinski||Freshman||6'7, 270 lbs.|
|Konner Gomness||Freshman||6'4, 273 lbs.|
Andre Dillard isn’t walking through that door....but that’s OK because Liam Ryan and his mullet will take his place at left tackle. That leaves Robert Valencia to slide in at left guard. The rest of the line is the same: Frederick Mauigoa at center, Josh Watson at right guard and Abraham Lucas at right tackle. This squad was unproven a year ago but established itself quickly as one of the top o-lines in the nation and allowed just 13 sacks, best in the Pac-12. As long as the first unit stays healthy, this position will be strong.
Behind them are unproven guys and with Christian Haangana off the team, the depth takes a hit. Some of the younger linemen may have to grow up fast, should they be thrust into action.
Comfort Level: 4.7 - The only guy filling in as a starter (Valencia) got plenty of playing time last season and even started in the Alamo Bowl. The only thing keeping this from a 5 is the lack of experience by second stringers.
Keep an eye on: Brian Greene. He’s not a starter, but he filled in nice at center at a recent scrimmage. He can apparently also play guard, giving WSU some options should a lineman go down.
Your comfort level with the 2019 Washington State offense is:
This poll is closed