The Washington State Cougars dispatched their neighbors from Cheney last Saturday in a game that was a bit more lopsided than their previous two encounters. Eastern Washington battled back from a 28-3 deficit to pull within 35-24 deep in the third quarter, answering a 99-yard Wazzu touchdown drive with a touchdown of their own in three plays.
That’s when maybe the most exciting play on Saturday happened. And it didn’t count.
A holding call negated Easop Winston’s 53-yard house call and the Cougs went on to punt a couple times before becoming reacquainted with the end zone in the fourth quarter and putting the game out of reach.
Questionable holding calls can’t keep that from being our Awesome Play this week.
Added bonus play: Brandon Arcanado put on a blocking clinic at the same time Eastern forgot to defend the middle of the field.
Wazzu had burned Eastern with Y-Cross a few times by this point; Jamire Calvin made a great sliding catch on one of them, and the Eagles were ready for it with the Cougs again near midfield.
WSU is in their Green (two RBs, two receivers to the right) formation to the short side of the field and motioned Max Borghi (F) out to the sideline before the snap, where he stays as an outlet in the flat. On the field side (top of screen), a corner is manned up on the X receiver, the OLB is manned on the backfield running back, and the safety is spying middle zone.
Eastern looks like they want to be in Cover 2 to the boundary. The outside linebacker, No. 40 — splitting the difference between WSU’s Y and Z receivers below — should probably drop more toward the hash than he does here to cover the hook-to-curl zone.
Wazzu quarterback Gardner Minshew II has eyes on the field safety right at the snap and top of his drop. He quickly moves to Winston’s dig and sees the (off screen) safety on top and backer dropping in front. He gets to his outlet in the flat in just a couple seconds.
Not much of an outlet with a Cover 2 corner sitting right there.
Have to create some space.
SIx. (Until it wasn’t).
Winston sits in the open zone, gets up field after the catch, and legs through a tackle attempt from the safety.
This play has a couple things about it that make it seem entirely unremarkable: It didn’t matter to the game at all, and it’s a common play and mundane play call. WSU runs a handful of Y-Cross plays around midfield every game.
Gardner Minshew II adds the spice to this one. He recognizes a set-up from Eastern really quickly, getting through his progression fast without being in a hurry. He then moves in the pocket to manipulate a defender out of a throwing window.
PAC-12 Network analyst Yogi Roth spotted it and was impressed.
Really enjoying @GardnerMinshew5 play at @WSUCougFB - not afraid to check it down & seems to keep his eyes downfield. Take a look at a play that got called back but is graduate level by him. #HowGreatIsBall @Pac12Network - we talk #WSUvsUSC tomm night w/ @Mike_Yam @CurtisConway80 pic.twitter.com/cH1UU2pxus— Yogi Roth (@YogiRoth) September 18, 2018
More than a completion percentage or yardage stat, watching him do that on Saturday should give you confidence in his command of the offense, even this early on in the season.
Rarely do we highlight wide receiver blocking and this was a spectacular effort.
Eastern throws a 5-2 front at Wazzu in a man-coverage goal line situation. Thinking WSU would run at a 7-box with 10 personnel — or forgetting their rules for who takes the RB — both linebackers sell out for a run fake to the right and leave the middle of the field completely undefended.
Brandon Arcanado took care of the rest.