Gage Gubrud (8), then Eastern Washington’s quarterback Gage Gubrud throws a pass against Washington State on Sept. 15, 2018 in Pullman. Gubrud has since transferred to WSU. (AP Photo/Young Kwak)

Gage Gubrud (8), then Eastern Washington’s quarterback Gage Gubrud throws a pass against Washington State on Sept. 15, 2018 in Pullman. Gubrud has since transferred to WSU. (AP Photo/Young Kwak)

Quarterback transfer from EWU settles in with Cougars

Gage Gubrud is eager to blaze his own trail in Pullman, after Gardner Minshew’s success as a transfer.

By Theo Lawson

The Spokesman-Review

LEWISTON, Idaho — “I’m not Gardner.”

While there wasn’t any discernible malice or irritation in Gage Gubrud’s voice when the quarterback uttered those three words after Washington State’s fifth fall practice — and fourth at Lewiston’s Sacajawea Junior High — there may have been just a small trace of fatigue — intentional or otherwise.

While Tuesday marked Gubrud’s first group interview as a signal-caller for WSU since joining up with the Cougars in February, the Eastern Washington transfer has already been asked a few dozen times about the man and mustache he’s trying to replace, and probably prepped himself for the questions a fewdozen more.

Nobody who matters realistically expects Gubrud to mirror Gardner Minshew — his record-shattering numbers, or his affable personality — but there’s still something to be said for setting the record straight.

“They look at it and how much success a grad transfer had last year and it gets really exciting, and everyone wants to make a story on another grad transfer coming in,” Gubrud said. “Oh, could it be the same? Could it be worse? We’re all different people. It’s a new team. Nothing we did last year as a team matters for this year.

“I don’t lead the same way as Gardner, I don’t throw the ball the same way as Gardner. So they’re all different things, and Gardner’s a great quarterback, but we go about things differently.”

No, the Cougars don’t expect Gubrud to grow out his facial hair, or adopt any other Minshewisms for that matter. While they wouldn’t mind another hallmark passing season from whoever replaces the reigning Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year, they’d prefer their latest grad transfer do things his own way.

In Cheney, Gubrud was notorious for extending plays with his feet.

When the pass rush looked to envelope him, Gubrud often slipped away from the harm and found a receiver downfield or chewed up the real estate with his feet.

WSU’s signal-callers aren’t “live” during fall camp, so the defensive linemen generally pump their brakes once they get into the backfield, at times making it hard to distinguish a sack from a positive gain. But even during the watered-down “team periods,” Gubrud has found opportunities to display his unique improvisation, reaffirming he hasn’t lost a step since fracturing a toe playing for the Eagles last fall, and suffering a foot/ankle injury prior to spring camp in Pullman this March.

On Saturday, when a botched snap rolled to his feet, the QB coolly fielded the ball before rolling left out of the pocket and throwing to Dezmon Patmon on the run for a touchdown.

During Monday’s team period, Gubrud slipped through a crack in the pass rush with the defense blitzing, and stepped into a long throw to Renard Bell, who made the catch for 60-plus yards.

“He brings another element to the game,” WSU nose tackle Misiona Aiolupotea-Pei said. “You’ve got to watch out for the run or the pass as well. He’s a good player.”

Many have pegged Gubrud as a favorite to win WSU’s QB battle solely based on career reps and accolades, but coach Mike Leach vowed to make it an honest three-man battle. So far, all three have produced both highlights and errors, but Leach is no closer to making a decision on his starter than he was five days ago.

“We’re kind of accumulating data, information, evaluation,” Leach said Tuesday. “You see something every day, and the biggest thing is who’s consistent. You try to develop a level of consistency, and that’s what you’re really working toward.”

If it makes things easier, Gubrud has a wealth of receivers at his disposal. That was also the case at EWU, where over the course of his three seasons the QB threw passes to Cooper Kupp, Kendrick Bourne, Shaq Hill and Nsimba Webster. But WSU’s current group, all of its parts accounted for, is easily the deepest Gubrud has played with.

“There’s no drop-off with guys,” Gubrud said. “We’ve got 10, 11, 12 — however many you want to say — really good receivers. It’s unfortunate sometimes, because not all of them get to play. You usually can only play with four at a time, and every once in a while you put five in.”

Gubrud said he’s still adjusting to the speed of play and the tempo of Pac-12 practices. That’s no knock on the Eagles, he insists, but “it’s just every day it’s a little bit faster and guys are one step quicker, so you’ve got to be that much sharper with your reads.”

Other variances between EWU and WSU? The resources a player has at the FBS level are vastly different — and more plentiful — than they are in the FCS.

The Cougars employ a full-time chef inside their football complex, so players rarely are scrounging for food — or the right food.

“We get fed really well. Chef Raul (Vera) takes care of us,” Gubrud said. “So that’s the biggest thing, because at Eastern you get a meal plan, or whatever it is, and you’re eating what everyone else eats in the student body. Here you get all this great food, and if you need to gain weight, all the resources are there. If you need to lose weight or maintain, all the resources are there for you.”

The quarterback and his teammates feasted on crab legs the day they reported back to campus for fall camp.

“We get crab legs, surf and turf, all that stuff,” Gubrud said.

Life is good for Gubrud, even after multiple injuries and a stressful transfer saga. Depending on the data and information the Cougars accumulate from him over the next few weeks, it could get even better.

Talk to us

More in Sports

Marysville Pilchuck’s Christian Van Natta lifts the ball in the air to celebrate a turnover during the game against Marysville Getchell on Friday, Sept. 16, 2022 in Marysville, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Prep football roundup for Friday, Sept. 22

Prep football roundup for Friday, Sept. 22: (Note for coaches/scorekeepers: To report… Continue reading

Lynnwood teammates mob senior Abbie Orr (4) after her impressive dig led to a point against Jackson during a volleyball match Thursday, Sept. 14, 2023, at Lynnwood High School in Bothell, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Lynnwood volleyball team continues rise to prominence

After ending a 20-year state drought last season, the Royals are surging again and have vaulted to No. 3 in Class 3A in the new WSVCA poll.

Jackson High’s Ben Lee lunges to get to the ball against Kamiak on Thursday, Sep. 22, 2022, at the Kamiak Tennis Courts in Mukilteo, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Prep boys tennis season preview: Players and teams to watch

A look at the area’s top athletes and teams on the tennis court this fall.

Austin Roest prepares to take a wrist shot during the first day of Silvertips training camp on Thursday, August 31, 2023, at Angel of the Winds Arena in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Dad is an NHL bigwig, but Silvertips’ Roest carving his own path

The 19-year-old forward and son of Stanley Cup-winning executive Stacy Roest leads the Silvertips into the 2023-24 season.

Rich Haldi. (County Sports Hall of Fame photo)
County Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2023 bio: Rich Haldi

The WSU alum and longtime EvCC athletic administrator helped found the Snohomish County Sports Hall of Fame.

Vote for The Herald’s Prep Athlete of the Week for Sept. 11-17

The Athlete of the Week nominees for Sept. 11-17. Voting closes at… Continue reading

Arlington junior quarterback Leyton Martin throws a short pass during the second quarter of the season opener against Kamiak on Friday, Sep. 1, 2023, at Arlington High School in Arlington, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
3 games to watch in Week 4 of the prep football season

An in-depth look at the best games the area has to offer, plus a full schedule of the local action in Week 4.

Lakewood High School.
Refs blown call means Lakewood football game will restart in 3rd quarter

The Cougars dispute an incorrectly spotted ball by officials on a penalty-riddled play in the 3rd quarter. The game will resume from that point in Week 10.

Longtime Edmonds School District wrestling coach John Casebeer was also a member of the Snohomish County Wrestling Officials Association for 27 years. (County Sports Hall of Fame photo)
County Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2023 bio: John Casebeer

The 1963 Edmonds graduate spent 30 successful years as a wrestling coach in the Edmonds School District.

Most Read