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Report: Washington State to play season opener without all-conference running back Max Borghi

Washington State Cougars running back Max Borghi (21) scores a touchdown against Oregon State early in the second half of a college football game on Saturday, November 23, 2019, at Martin Stadium in Pullman, Wash.  (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)

Two days removed from earning preseason All-Pac-12 First Team honors, Washington State running back Max Borghi won’t play for the Cougars in tonight’s season opener against Oregon State.

Bruce Feldman of The Athletic was the first to report Borghi’s absence and multiple sources told The Spokesman-Review the running back was not expecting to play after suffering a back injury in practice.

It’s unclear when Borghi will be able to return to the field for the Cougars, who host projected Pac-12 North champion Oregon at Martin Stadium on Nov. 14.

Borghi’s role as a rusher was expected to grow in Nick Rolovich’s run-and-shoot offense, but without one of the conference’s most productive players available against OSU, the Cougars will likely turn to the player listed behind on the depth chart: redshirt senior Deon McIntosh. 

In his first season at WSU, McIntosh made 11 appearances and carried the ball 16 times for 11 yards and one touchdown playing in Mike Leach’s Air Raid offense. The former Notre Dame and East Mississippi Community College had more catches than carries, turning 17 receptions into 113 yards and two touchdowns.

It’s also likely redshirt freshman Jouvensly Bazil will make his debut in the WSU backfield. The Haitian-born speedster from Florida appeared in four games last season, all on kickoff duty, but apparently impressed coaches during preseason camp and had six carries for 51 rushing yards in the team’s second scrimmage after logging five carries for 93 yards and one touchdown in the first scrimmage.

Clay Markoff, the former walk-on fullback, could also see more field time tonight with Borghi’s absence.