The Cougars got possibly their best news of the offseason Saturday morning, when Washington State announced that former Eastern Washington quarterback Gage Gubrud had been granted a medical hardship waiver and earned a sixth year of college eligibility.
He’ll spend that year with the Cougars and Mike Leach, whose quarterbacks have authored four of the top six passing seasons in Pac-12/10 Conference history.
Leach was supposed to be traveling to Vancouver Saturday morning for a booster event, but due to a flight cancellation, the WSU coach was able to spend 12 minutes on the phone talking about his newest transfer quarterback, who plans to enroll Feb. 18 and participate in spring camp.
(On bringing in a quarterback with Gubrud’s experience/accolades)
“We’re excited about it. I think we’ve got three real quality quarterbacks in that class, so I think it’ll be a heckuva battle over the spring and I think it’ll be a heckuva battle in camp, too.”
(On if Gubrud will be able to participate in spring camp)
“It looks like he can get into his graduate courses Feb. 18.”
(On Gubrud’s transfer timeline/when the QB first reached out to WSU)
“It was quite sudden. I still don’t understand that portal business. What are portals anyway? People are throwing that around all the time. Well all the sudden I’m in this portal. What is that? What is a portal? People just walk the street and are throwing around that word portal all the time. But what’s it mean? It’s like an alternative universe thing that you see on science fiction, or what is it? I think people using that term and stuff – I’ll be perfectly honest, I don’t think they know anymore about it than you and I do. They just like saying it. Not sure how we found it, could’ve been word of mouth. A lot of times this stuff gets out word of mouth. I think we were on his list to begin with. Look forward to it being a heckuva battle, but he’s certainly a very talented guy that’s had a lot of success in the past.”
(On his pitch to Gubrud being similar to the one he gave Gardner Minshew last season)
“Yeah, it was quite similar. He was more familiar with us than Gardner. Gardner was familiar with us, but Gage a little more firsthand I would say. Said that all great teams are competitive one way or the other. He’s going to have to compete for everything he gets, just like if he’s lucky enough to go to the next level, we all have to. So I don’t know, I think it should be very competitive because we really have three quality guys.”
(On how a second graduate transfer in as many years affects the morale of the QB room)
“Well, it should make it really competitive. It should make it really competitive and I hope that it does. The other thing is, is that’s the biggest thing. You want to be as competitive as you can at all your positions and that’s kind of the environment we’re trying to create.”
(On if he worries about how Gubrud will be able to adapt to the Air Raid offense)
“Yeah, I worry about that. We’ve got all the film, all the resources, all those things and it’s going to have to be pretty quick. He’ll have a little more time than Gardner did, but not a lot more.”
(On the stigma that the Cougars are relying too heavily on grad transfer QBs)
“Well, we’re a little out of sequence a tiny bit as far as the class, which that happens. We’ve got three seniors and, what, several sophomores and a freshman. So we’re a little out of sequence I suppose, and that typically happens. The grad thing, regardless of position, that’ll always be something we look at as a resource but with that said, you’ve still got to win your spot. With that said, other positions it’s the same thing. You know what I mean? In our case in particular, I wouldn’t think we’d be stigmatized by it even if it were to happen twice in a row given all the quarterbacks we’ve produced here and will continue to produce.”
(On Gubrud’s excitement)
“He seems excited about coming here, he seemed excited about what we were doing, he seemed excited for the opportunity to play another year and was excited to see what he could do here in the Pac-12.”
(On if he thought the NCAA would approve Gubrud’s medical redshirt)
“Well I wanted him to. I wanted him to for sure, but I feel like we’ve also got two quality guys with a chance to have three and one of them with a little more experience was pretty appealing.”
(On Gubrud’s first career start – at WSU in a 45-42 upset win during the 2016 season)
“I thought they were a good overall team. I thought they were a really good team. Like think of the draft picks they had off of that team. And they weren’t just draft picks, they were kind of high consequential ones and I thought (Gage) did a real good job of leading that unit. I think he does a really good job – he’s one of those guys that’s awfully dangerous when he’s on the move. Because when he’s on the move, he’s fairly threatening. Some guys, when you get them on the move and you say, ‘Good he’s on the move, he’s liable to screw this up.’ Some guys really don’t well throw it very well on the move. Then other guys kind of put you in that screwy bind of, OK you’ve got to affect the quarterback because if you don’t affect him there won’t be any bad throws and you won’t sack him. But if all the sudden he breaks the pocket and – some guys you’re afraid may run, but in (Gage’s) case not so much that. He might, but he throws it pretty well on the run. Once he takes off and breaks the pocket, that’s when he gets some of his explosive plays.”
(On Gubrud’s accuracy)
“You can improve it, but you can’t go from zero to something I don’t think. I’ve always thought he was pretty accurate.”
(On Gubrud’s mobility)
“I think he’s kind of Connor Halliday mobile is what he is. You know what I mean? And sort of quick feet, not real fast. But the thing is, when he’s on the move, he’s good. He does good things when he’s on the move and he’s quite dangerous in those situations.”
(On Gubrud’s personality and leadership)
“Well he’s got some experience doing it and he’s kind of a laid back guy. But he’s come from quite a ways too. He walked on at Eastern Washington, I believe, and of course clawed his way in there.”
(On if he spoke to other coaches about Gubrud during this process)
“Some, just in general. Part of it is just sort of cumulative over the years since they’re right up the road there. Then of course I saw him this year, he played against us. It was funny because on his visit, he’s sitting there watching the highlight tape of him getting knocked around. So the recruits come in, we show the highlights of the season, offense and defense. So there’s a highlight tape that, I don’t know, lasts 15 minutes or so. Kind of highlights of the season, the locker room, the pageantry and things – and he’s one of the victims. He said, ‘I’ve never gone on a recruiting visit where I was on the highlight film – the one where bad things are happening.’”
(On if the toe injury will be fully healed by the time the Cougars begin spring camp)
“As far as I know.”
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