Washington State Football: 3 Takeaways From Season Opening Win at Wyoming

Mike Leach, Washington State football. (Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr/Getty Images)
Mike Leach, Washington State football. (Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr/Getty Images) /
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Washington State Football
HOUSTON, TX: New Washington State Football QB Gardner Minshew #5, then with the East Carolina Pirates, throws a pass pressured by Reggie Chevis #3 of the Houston Cougars in the fourth quarter at TDECU Stadium on November 4, 2017. (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images) /

Washington State football had every reason to lay an egg in their opener at Wyoming on Saturday. Every excuse was ripe for the picking. They were coming off an off-season full of adversity with a roster somewhat depleted from a year ago. 

The Cougars were picked to finish second to last in the PAC-12, ahead of only Oregon State, who was trounced in their opener by Ohio State, 77-31. There was a new quarterback and the Cougars were on the road in the high altitude of Wyoming. A challenge for them in a way which is hard to prepare for. Through it all, the Cougars showed resilience and persevered to a 41-19 win. Here are three takeaways from a very encouraging win. 

QB Gardner Minshew II showed promise

Minshew finished his career at East Carolina with 24 touchdowns, 11 interceptions, and 3,487 passing yards. He is trying to fill the big shoes of Luke Falk, who ranked eighth in NCAA Division 1 FBS career passing yards just behind Baker Mayfield. For added pressure, the transfer is also attempting to learn Mike Leach’s high powered Air Raid offense. A system which is very different from his days at ECU. 

He passed his first test with a solid performance, throwing for 319 yards and three touchdowns. Minshew got better as the game went on and led the Cougars back from a 16-13 halftime deficit with four touchdown drives in the last 19 minutes.

The fifth-year senior took charge after throwing his only interception late in the second quarter, which led to a Cowboys touchdown. He showed leadership by example and also a willingness to be verbal in the huddle directing the Air Raid offense. 

He utilized his weapons well, and possibly found a go-to receiver in Jamire Calvin, who caught five balls for 82 yards. The biggest takeaway from Minshew’s performance was the fact that he did not get rattled. He showed his age, maturity, and experience in leading the team to an important win. Minshew will have to get used to throwing the ball much more than he did at East Carolina. He threw 57 passes in the opener.