There was no way the Washington State Cougars were going to make it through this season unscathed in a major way by COVID, and it turns out they were hit in a critical spot after just two games: Jayden de Laura has tested positive for COVID and did not travel for the team’s game at the Stanford Cardinal on Saturday, according to Theo Lawson of the Spokesman-Review.
There have been no reports that he’s suffering severe symptoms, which is what’s most important. Naturally, some fans are wondering whether de Laura also will miss the Apple Cup; that depends on when he received his positive test and his symptoms. A positive test requires a minimum of 10 days in quarantine, and Lawson reported in his story that Cruz has been leading the offense for “a few days.” If the positive test came early in the week, it’s possible he could be back for the game agains the Washington Huskies on Black Friday.
The true freshman quarterback has been a revelation for WSU, showing uncommon poise and playmaking ability for someone so young, leading the Cougs to a season-opening win against the Oregon State Beavers and a strong showing against the Oregon Ducks. The offense has been only a tick below what we had grown accustomed to under Mike Leach, as de Laura has thrown for 548 yards and four touchdowns in his first two games while also using his athleticism to move the ball with his feet.
It was ostensibly a close battle in training camp between him, redshirt sophomore Cammon Cooper and redshirt freshman Gunner Cruz for the starting position, and now it will be up to one of those two to take the reins against the Cardinal. It was thought that de Laura had edged out Cooper for the starting job, but Lawson is reporting that Gunner Cruz has been taking the first team snaps before the team traveled to California and is expected to start.
Cruz — who has never thrown a college pass after sitting out last season — has a different skill set than de Laura, standing 6-foot-5 and 217 pounds with a cannon for an arm. He does have a bit of athleticism, just not in the same way that de Laura does at 6-feet and 195 pounds.
Cruz was a three-star recruit out of Casteel High School in Queen Creek, Arizona, who also had offers from the Arizona State Sun Devils, Baylor Bears, and Cincinnati Bearcats.
The good news is that Cruz is facing a Stanford defense that has been pretty suspect this season, giving up 35 points in each of its first two games to the Oregon Ducks and Colorado Buffaloes. Perhaps of greater note is that the Cardinal are allowing nearly 10 yards per attempt to opponent passers.
Here’s to wishing de Laura a speedy and safe recovery from the virus, and here’s to hoping that Cruz can pick up right where de Laura left off.