HEADLINE

No. 23 Washington State unveils QB Gordon in opener

Field Level Media

August 27, 2019 at 4:01 pm.

And the winner is … Anthony Gordon.

In a battle of redshirt seniors, Gordon got the nod over Trey Tinsley to start at quarterback for No. 23 Washington State and rack up huge numbers in coach Mike Leach’s pass-first offense. Gordon gets a soft landing spot for his first start Saturday night when the Cougars host New Mexico State at Martin Stadium in Pullman, Wash.

The 6-foot-3, 210-pound Gordon has thrown five career passes, all last year in relief of record-setting starter Gardner Minshew, completing three for 17 yards with an interception. Gordon is very likely to eclipse five passes before Washington State’s first possession ends.

Leach said Gordon prevailed over Tinsley, as well as highly-touted Eastern Washington graduate transfer Gage Gubrud, because of his consistency.

“Some of it started in the spring, I think,” Leach said to the Spokane (Wash.) Spokesman-Review. “He had a really good spring and then he really didn’t break stride from spring until camp. So he was very steady in camp. Steady, but also explosive.”

Gubrud was given a sixth year of eligibility by the NCAA after being injured early last year at Eastern Washington, but sustained another injury during winter conditioning that kept him out of spring practice. He simply couldn’t execute Leach’s offense well enough in preseason to beat out either Gordon or Tinsley.

Coming off a program-record 11 wins last year, the Cougars shouldn’t suffer too much dropoff as they return 12 starters, including seven from an offense that averaged a Pac-12 high 37.5 points per game. They welcome back seven receivers who caught at least 20 passes, as well as sophomore running back Max Borghi, who caught 53 passes and scored 12 touchdowns in 2018.

Washington State is a 32-point favorite against the Aggies, who went just 3-9 last year and allowed a whopping 41.3 points per game. But seventh-year coach Doug Martin feels like his team has a chance to make serious improvement in 2019.

“I think we’re doing some really good things,” Martin said after their first preseason scrimmage. “We’ve got more athleticism on both sides of the ball than we’ve ever had here. We’ve got a lot of guys making plays on both sides.”

If New Mexico State is to have a chance at the upset, senior running back Jason Huntley and senior linebacker Javahn Fergurson will probably lead the way. Huntley finished with 1,632 all-purpose yards last year, leading FBS with three kickoff returns for touchdowns.

Fergurson paced FBS in tackles per game with 13.2, notching 5.5 sacks, and collected 22 tackles in a Sept. 15 win at New Mexico. He’ll have a chance to burnish his numbers against top-notch opponents the first two weeks. The Aggies visit No. 2 Alabama next week.