No. 11 Oregon and WSU bring young QBs to Pac-12 North test
The Nick Rolovich era at Washington State opened with a victory against an Oregon school. Can the Cougars make it two in a row?
WSU (1-0) will play host to No. 11 Oregon (1-0) on Saturday afternoon in a Pacific-12 Conference game in Pullman, Wash.
The Cougars opened their pandemic-delayed season last week with a 38-28 victory at Oregon State, as Jayden de Laura passed for two touchdowns and ran for a score in his college debut.
The true freshman from Honolulu, Hawaii, completed 18 of 33 passes for 227 yards and also rushed for 43 yards.
“The good thing about Jayden is, he was comfortable when he got off the plane,” Rolovich said. “And this moment wasn’t too big for him. He loves football, he loves winning, he loves playing and he wants to get better.”
Deon McIntosh added 147 yards rushing and a touchdown as the Cougars amassed 456 total yards. It was McIntosh’s first 100-yard game since 2017 when he was at Notre Dame.
McIntosh filled in capably for running back Max Borghi, a first-team preseason all-conference selection, who reportedly hurt his back in practice last week and didn’t play against the Beavers. Rolovich said Monday there he had no update to report on Borghi.
The Cougars had a four-game winning streak against the Ducks snapped last year in Eugene, Ore., on a last-second, 26-yard field goal by Camden Lewis in a 37-35 decision. The Ducks went on to win the Pac-12 championship and beat Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl.
The Ducks opened their 2020 season last weekend with a 35-14 victory against visiting Stanford.
Oregon also broke in a new quarterback last week, Tyler Shough. The sophomore completed 17 of 26 passes for 227 yards and a touchdown and rushed 11 times for 85 yards and a score.
“Some of it’s by decision, some of it’s just seeing the play break down and doing what I can,” Shough said about running the ball.
Teammate CJ Verdell, the conference’s top returning rusher after gaining 1,220 yards last season, ran for 105 yards and a touchdown.
“In general, for having not played a football game in 311 days, really pleased with the result,” Ducks coach Mario Cristobal said.
The Cougars’ de Laura was named the Pac-12 Freshman of the Week for his performance against Oregon State and Pro Football Focus gave him the fourth-best quarterback grade in the country for games played last weekend.
“The first thing that has to be stated is he’s a phenomenal player,” Cristobal said of de Laura. “Does not look like a freshman at all. The big plays he generated, the plays that he kept alive, the way that he had complete command of the offense is impressive. Extremely impressive …”
The Cougars will look to slow down Verdell, who had more than 300 all-purpose yards and three touchdowns against them last year. That included 257 rushing yards.
WSU has made it a priority to shore up its run defense, but Jermar Jefferson had 120 yards and three touchdowns against them last week.
Saturday’s game at Martin Stadium will be played without fans, per coronavirus-related protocols. Although Rolovich said in his postgame news conference last Saturday that the Cougars were without 32 players for a variety of injuries and reasons, the school has only confirmed one positive COVID-19 case.
–Field Level Media