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Re-emergence of Tay Martin against Stanford gives Anthony Gordon, Washington State another talented pass-catching option

Washington State Cougars wide receiver Brandon Arconado (19) reacts with wide receiver Davontavean Martin (1) after scoring a touchdown against the Stanford Cardinal during the second half of a college football game on Saturday, November 16, 2019, at Martin Stadium in Pullman, Wash. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)
By Dan Thompson For The Spokesman-Review

PULLMAN – Washington State players and coaches have talked all season about how great it would be to get more production out of their “X” receivers.

In a 49-22 victory over Stanford on Saturday, they got it.

Junior outside receiver Tay Martin caught a 15-yard touchdown in the first quarter and finished with four catches for 76 yards, tying a season-high he set in the third game of the year, against Houston.

“It’s been a long time coming for Tay,” quarterback Anthony Gordon said. “He’s had some ups and downs, but he’s always worked hard. Throughout this whole week he put his head down, he worked hard, and I told him that I was gonna give him a bunch of shots early in the game and get him involved.

“Seeing him respond well and seeing him make explosive plays, it’s a great thing for our offense, and I just wanna see Tay keep on going like that.”

Martin’s downs have been documented: Coach Mike Leach excused him from a drill during fall camp in Lewiston, and against Arizona State in October, Martin played sparingly on offense and finished without a catch – the only time he’d gone without a catch since his freshman year.

Martin said that game served as a bit of a wake-up call.

“Yeah, it was. It for sure was,” he said. “Stuff happens. You just gotta support the team as much as you can. Just hope for the best. Keep your head up and just keep going.”

Martin has 34 catches for 437 yards and three touchdowns this year. As a sophomore he started all 13 games and had 69 receptions for 685 yards and eight scores, while as a freshman he finished with 31 catches, 366 yards and six touchdowns.

After the game Saturday, Leach said Martin has always been explosive and that he has been better prepared and a little more precise lately.

Last week, Martin had four catches for 66 yards against Cal. When he is more involved, it opens up space for teammates, said senior Easop Winston Jr., who plays opposite Martin at “Z” receiver.

“We’re very dynamic at the outside position. Any one of us could take over a game, so it was good to see Tay get his touches tonight,” Winston said. “He’s dangerous, as you can see, when he gets the ball in his hands, so it just opens the offense up and whatever defense we’re playing that day, they have to adjust.”

As for Gordon’s eagerness to get him involved in the passing game early, Martin said that made a difference, too.

“It just gave me the confidence I needed,” Martin said. “Just hearing that from him, because he’s a great quarterback, got me going faster, you know, kept my head in it.”