The Spokesman-Review’s Theo Lawson broke the news yesterday that the Washington State Cougars’ leading receiver, Tavares Martin Jr., would be missing Saturday’s homecoming game with the Colorado Buffaloes after being suspended for violating an unspecified team rule.
What happened is starting to come into a little more focus, courtesy of Martin’s dad, via The Seattle Times’ Stefanie Loh: Martin lost his temper at teammates and/or coaches and missed a practice.
“He was a little angry, saying things hadn’t gone his way the last couple of games. He broke a team rule and needs to be punished for that,” the receiver’s father, Tavares Martin Sr., told Loh. “He just made a mistake, and he had to pay a price for it. It was a miscommunication between him and the coaches. He was upset. He said he felt like he should have been more involved in that game.
“There were a lot of things that took place in the Cal game. T.J. also understands that you lose as a team and you win as a team.”
Martin Jr. apparently came to practice in street clothes on Tuesday to apologize to the team.
“At the end of the day, he’s a growing young man,” Martin Sr. said. “Like I told him last night, ‘The young guys look up to you.’ He said, ‘I know I screwed up, Dad.’ ”
The more pressing question now is where this leaves WSU heading into the game with the Buffs. There’s a strong case to be made that Martin Jr. is the player the Cougars could least afford to lose on offense — he’s the team’s most dangerous receiver and his backups have produced very little when they’ve been on the field.
His primary replacement is C.J. Dimry, a sixth-year senior whom fans have continually had high hopes for because of his tantalizing size (6-foot-5) and bloodlines (his dad, Charles, played in the NFL for 12 years). The other option is true freshman Tay Martin, who has flashed tantalizing potential, athletically.
Here’s the problem, though: Neither has demonstrated he can give WSU anything even remotely approximating what the Cougs get from Martin Jr. Combined, Martin Jr.’s backups have 14 catches on 25 targets (56 percent) for 151 yards; Martin Jr., meanwhile, has 37 catches on 57 targets (65 percent) for 502 yards.
While WSU typically likes to have their receivers play one position and stick to it, it’s worth wondering if the Cougs would consider flipping Dezmon Patmon from his position backing up Isaiah Johnson-Mack at Z (outside receiver on the right side of the formation) to X (Martin Jr.’s position on the outside to the left). Of course, Patmon hasn’t lit the world on fire, either.
Ultimately, it’s probably going to fall to Johnson-Mack, Renard Bell, Kyle Sweet and Jamire Calvin to produce enough to take the pressure off whoever lines up at X.
But if it was up to me, I’d love to see Tay Martin get a good, long look out there. I know the most important thing is to win the game, but I haven’t seen really anything from Dimry that leads me to believe he’s superior to the freshman. And if all things are equal, let’s get the freshman some run.