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No. 22 WSU Cougars again flexing offensive muscle

Senior Calvin Jackson Jr., junior Tay Martin and freshman Rodrick Fisher are battling. (Getty)

Now that Washington State coach Mike Leach has settled on Anthony Gordon as the starting quarterback, the No. 22 Cougars are looking to answer some questions at outside receiver.

Extremely efficient WR Renard Bell trying his hand at coin toss

The problem is not a dearth of talent. It’s too much available talent.

Senior Calvin Jackson Jr., junior Tay Martin and freshman Rodrick Fisher are battling for the two starting jobs available at the outside receiver position.

“Don’t have a clear-cut plan with that,” Leach said this week as the Cougars prepared for their game Saturday against Northern Colorado. “Part of it is those guys are kind of playing keep away with us just a little bit. One guy looks like he’s the best player. Then the other player beats him out. Then the other player beats him out. And so it goes.”

Fisher caught a 41-yard touchdown pass from Gordon on the first drive last Saturday against New Mexico State, a game the Cougars won 58-7. “I thought he played fast,” Leach said. “He doesn’t waste any time playing slow.”

Gordon, who beat out Gage Gubrud to make his first start for the Cougars, completed 29 of 35 passes for 420 yards and five touchdowns, tying Luke Falk for the team record for most touchdowns in a first start. He was named Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week.

The Cougars (1-0) turn that offensive prowess this week on Northern Colorado (0-1) which gave up 382 yards in a 35-18 loss at San Jose State last week.

Bears coach Earnest Collins Jr. felt his team could have done much more. “We could have kept running the ball because they couldn’t stop it,” Collins said. “It’s one of those games you could have won and should have won but we can learn a lot from it.”

Other things to know as Washington State prepares to host Northern Colorado of the Big Sky Conference:

WHO’S NO. 2?

While Gordon is the starting quarterback, a question has emerged about whether Gubrud or Trey Tinsley is the backup. Both played against New Mexico State.

“It appears to me they’re pretty neck and neck,” Leach said. “I think they’re pretty close.”

Gubrud is a graduate transfer who played a lot at Eastern Washington, while Tinsley has been with the Cougars since 2016 but has gotten little playing time.

Gubrud, who threw a late touchdown pass against New Mexico State, became the first player ever to throw a touchdown pass both for and against the Cougars. He threw eight touchdown passes against the Cougars while he was with Eastern Washington.

BEARS QB

Northern Colorado quarterback Jacob Knipp has suffered season-ending injuries three times in his college career.

But the sixth-year senior is back leading the Bears. The 6-foot-4, 213-pound Knipp is considered one of the better quarterbacks in the FCS and has dreams of playing in the NFL.

He said pro scouts “just want to see me string a stretch of games together and stay healthy.”

NUMBERS GAME

Washington State piled up more than 600 yards of offense against New Mexico State, the eighth time the Cougars have topped that mark under Leach. … Washington State has shut out four opponents in the past six years, tops in the Pac-12. Stanford and Washington have two shutouts each in that time. … Washington State is 119-21 against current members of the Big Sky Conference. This is the first time the Cougars have played Northern Colorado.