What’s not to love?
These are certainly fun times for Washington State quarterback Gardner Minshew, the graduate transfer from East Carolina, who first prevailed in a three-way battle to become the starting QB, and has now led the team to 2-0 record.
“I am having so much fun,” he said Tuesday evening after practice. “Winning is always fun, and doing it here is a lot of fun. I feel like we have a good team, a great coaching staff and great fans. And they are really making it a good experience.”
After deciding to leave East Carolina, Minshew had committed to playing his final season at Alabama, where he almost certainly would have been a backup before beginning a career in coaching there.
But then WSU coach Mike Leach called, and soon Minshew was Pullman-bound, where he had a much better opportunity to play. And to throw. A lot.
Minshew has completed 72 of 108 passes for 733 yards, with six touchdowns and three interceptions. He is sixth in the nation in passing yards.
The WSU offense sputtered in the second half of the Cougars’ 31-0 victory over San Jose State on Saturday night, not scoring in that half until late in the fourth quarter.
Leach called out the offensive line, the receivers and the running backs. Minshew might have escaped the criticism, but as the leader of the offense, he feels a responsibility for how the entire unit performs.
“We are all trying to get on the same page to where we can be successful, and my responsibility lies on all of us, myself included — especially myself,” he said. “It’s something we are attacking this week.”
Minshew said the Cougars are looking at each week as a chance to get better, and the goal is to be the most improved team each week.
“That’s one thing we keep saying,” he said. “It’s week to week, and we have many opportunities to get better.”
Minshew is piling up the offensive stats, but he is focused on just one, which became clear when asked what grade he would give himself through two games.
“I would say 2-0,” he said. “At the end of the day, that’s all that matters. Coaches trust me at quarterback to win games, and that’s all I am trying to do, and we can only do it one week at a time. So that’s all I am trying to do.”
To do that, Minshew said there are things he needs to improve. The offense will likely have to put up big numbers to beat FCS power Eastern Washington at home on Saturday. Eastern defeated WSU 45-42 two seasons ago.
“I’ve got to take care of the ball better,” he said. “I’ve got to throw fewer interceptions. (Interceptions), that’s something I can’t have. Just continue to make plays and getting more on the same page with our receivers, and getting our chemistry better every week.”
Minshew said playing in his first game at Martin Stadium last week “felt like home.” He is from Brandon, Miss., a town of around 22,000, close to the size of Pullman.
Minshew said he feels comfortable with his new town, and his new offense, despite not joining the team until the start of fall camp in August.
So, what’s not to love?
“I am extremely happy to be here,” Minshew said. “There is no place you would rather be than Martin Stadium on a Saturday, and I am very excited for the opportunity.”