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What we learned at WSU’s 2018 Spring Game

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Good morning Coug fans. Today is a good day because we get to dissect a WSU football game. Sure, it was just the annual spring scrimmage with a jumbled lineup. But it’s still a football game.

As always, we begin with the caveat that while it’s cool and fun to watch college football this time of year, the spring game is not exactly the best evaluation opportunity. Rosters aren’t normal, some starters rest, the play calling isn’t as robust as a regular season game, and the approach by the coaching staff is presumably to do some experimenting from time to time.

Also, the defense never blitzed yesterday, and only sent three or four guys at a time.

So with that out of the way, let’s take a look the pluses, minuses and the unknowns of the 2018 Spring Game.

Pluses

  • Kyle Sweet: The senior insider receiver had himself a day. Sweet hauled in eight catches for 138 yards, and that all may have come in the first half, as I joined many others in heading back to the tailgating lot, so correct me if he played at all in the second half. He didn’t grab a touchdown but he helped move the chains. Sweet is the most experienced receiver on the team, and he could go out with a bang.
  • Trey Tinsley and Anthony Gordon: Tinsely definitely looked like the no. 1 guy we’ve been hearing about. His 213 yards passing and three touchdowns look good, but don’t get too excited just yet, because the defense was very vanilla. Gordon looked decent, and he had the deeper receiving corps, too.
  • Tay Martin: Yeah, he had four catches for 52 yards and a touchdown, but did you see his block early in the scrimmage on Travell Harris’ big gain? Harris gets the stats there, but Martin made it happen.
  • Rodrick Fisher: My favorite moment of the scrimmage was when Fisher brought in a TD pass from Tinsley early in the scrimmage. The Spokane-area kid scored in a stadium where he’s scored countless times before, and seeing him in a Cougar uniform after what he’s been through is awesome. Good on you, Rodrick.
  • Brandon Arconado hurdles Skyler Thomas: Hey, that’s Boobie’s move.
  • Dezmon Patmon: I recall Patmon bringing in a nice TD pass at last year’s spring game and thinking he was going to be something special last season. He was serviceable in 2017, though he had a case of the dropsies from time to time. Patmon played well yesterday and had a nice juggling catch for a TD over Marcus Strong. Patmon is a big dude, and WSU needs him to find that next level, as they say (what does that even mean?).
  • Max Borghi: Or is it Bergie? Glenn Johnson kept pronouncing it Bergie during the game, making me wonder where he got his pronunciation guide. Borghi looked good overall. I was eager to see him after seeing some highlights from prior spring practices and while he didn’t take over the scrimmage, he did his job and did it well.
  • The Weather: The wind was kind of a drag outside the stadium, but the field is set below ground level, so the wind inside was hardly noticeable. The sun was out too, which is a miracle because most people around these parts recently started to believe that the sun would never show itself in Spokane again.
  • The Crowd: Mike Leach’s first spring game brought about 14,000 people to Albi Stadium, thanks to the excitement of having him be our head coach and the 85-degree weather. If you expect that many to show up to a scrimmage, you’re fooling yourself. WSU says 5,927 showed up yesterday, which seems about right. That’s a great crowd for this kind of game, if you’re asking me (you weren’t). Also, enjoy the game being in Spokane while you can, because Albi Stadium might be (finally) demolished or downsized in the coming years.

Minuses

  • The Secondary: Did you notice all the pluses revolved around the offense? New defensive coordinator Tracy Claeys has said the secondary needs to improve immensely between now and Labor Day Weekend. After viewing yesterday’s scrimmage, I can see why. The six WSU QBs combined for 634 yards passing and six touchdowns. Tinsley, Gordon and Cammon Cooper—the QBs with the most playing time—combined for 507 of those yards. It should be noted that Hunter Dale did not play, so far as I could tell.
  • The Running Game: 24 caries for 25 yards, with 23 of those yards coming on three carries by Clay Markoff, who is actually a fullback. We have a fullback again!

Unknowns

  • Cammon Cooper: I had Cooper in the “minus” category for a bit, but then I felt like I was being too harsh. Yea or nay? Anyway, he finished 12-of-18 for 120 yards and a touchdown, which looks good on paper. He seemed a bit indecisive, but remember: he should be getting fitted for a tux this time of year. A good summer and a good year dominating Thursday Night Football might do him well. Mike Leach obviously wanted to get him plenty of playing time, as he played for both teams throughout the scrimmage. He has two QBs ahead of him right now, and presumably a third when Gardner Minshew arrives. If Cooper plays next season, either something went horribly wrong or he had a monster summer and fall camp. Stay tuned.
  • The Offensive Line: This is one of the biggest question marks heading into next season, and we weren’t able to get any real answers yesterday, although the first and second teams played together, due to a lack of linemen. Usually the linemen are jumbled, but not yesterday. They protected the QBs pretty well overall, but they didn’t face a formidable pass rush. I won’t draw any conclusions from that just yet.
  • The Kicking Game: It definitely looks like Jack Crane is the no. 1 kicker right now, though he missed his first field goal in a scrimmage this spring. We didn’t see any punts, unless they came after halftime. So I guess that mean’s #neverpunt is going to really be a thing this fall, no?

The Biggest Plus of Them All

I’m still the rookie on the CougCenter writers crew, but hanging out with Jeff, Michael, Scott, Brian and PJ Friday night and Saturday was a ton of fun. I live in Spokane so going to the spring game is really easy. They came from Seattle and Florida. Florida! For a scrimmage! That’s dedication.

It was a busy time for WSU in Spokane with the various events throughout the week, including the first ever CougsFirst! show in town (more on that later today). The spring game with the CougCenter crew was a great way to wrap it up.

Oh, and the Crimson beat the Gray 34-24, apparently.

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Football

Trey Tinsley and Anthony Gordon showcase arms as Crimson beats Gray 34-24 in Washington State spring game | The Spokesman-Review
Six players took snaps Saturday afternoon at Joe Albi Stadium, but when Mike Leach was asked which of his quarterbacks had the most impressive Crimson and Gray game, the multiple-choice question was raised under the premise that the Cougars’ coach would probably choose A) Trey Tinsley or B) Anthony Gordon.

Washington State’s Rodrick Fisher catches three passes, touchdown in Joe Albi Homecoming | The Spokesman-Review
Rodrick Fisher’s football-playing career in Spokane didn’t technically end last November when his East Valley Knights cruised past North Central 34-17 in a nonleague game at Joe Albi Stadium.

Lacking numbers, Mike Leach keeps first-team offensive line together for Washington State spring game | The Spokesman-Review
In a perfect world, Washington State coach Mike Leach would’ve split his offensive linemen into two even teams for Saturday’s Crimson and Gray game at Joe Albi Stadium.

Washington State football: Early fireworks in WSU's Crimson and Gray game
QB Trey Tinsley was razor sharp day and his favorite target was Kyle Sweet

Baseball

WSU Offense Backs Sunitsch in Win Over Santa Clara | Washington State University Athletics
Washington State collected 13 hits including a pair of home runs to post a 11-3 victory over Santa Clara at Bailey-Brayton Field Saturday afternoon.