Washington State will play a second consecutive game without all-conference running back Max Borghi, the Cougars will also be without outside receiver Calvin Jackson Jr., who limped off the field in the season opener with an apparent lower body injury.
Starting “Edge” Willie Taylor III and backup cornerback Derrick Langford will each miss their first game of the season, while backup strong safety Chad Davis Jr. is set to miss his second. It’s unclear why those three are unavailable.
Despite missing two players from the offensive two-deep and at least three more on defense, WSU returns two key defensive players for today’s game against No. 11 Oregon. Starting strong safety Tyrese Ross and backup “Mike” linebacker Travion Brown were both in uniform for the Cougars after missing the season opener.
News of Borghi’s injury broke just hours prior to WSU’s game at Oregon State last Saturday. The junior, who was one of two running backs named to the Preseason All-Pac-12 First Team, is dealing with an undisclosed back injury and WSU coach Nick Rolovich has declined to offer any hints as to when he’ll return for the Cougars.
Borghi’s backup, redshirt senior Deon McIntosh, filled in admirably, totaling 18 carries with 147 yards and one touchdown. McIntosh played almost every snap at OSCU, but Cougars have two other options in the backfield: redshirt freshman Jouvensly Bazil or redshirt senior former walk-on Clay Markoff.
Jackson Jr. is one of the team’s two potential starters at “Z” receiver, along with walk-on and Spokane native Lucas Bacon. Though Bacon got the start in Corvallis, Jackson Jr. played the majority of the snaps at “Z,” catching two passes for 12 yards. Bacon, a Mead High School product, didn’t have a catch in the opener.
Taylor III and Brennan Jackson are both listed as possible starters for the Cougars at “Edge.” Jaylen Watson got the start over Langford, but Langford’s absence could mean more playing time for Chau Smith-Wade, who backed up George Hicks III on the other side of the field last week. With Ross and Davis Jr. both out last week, the Cougars started freshman walk-on Ayden Hector at strong safety. Though Ross is back this week, it’s likely Hector sees playing time as a backup in Davis Jr’s absence.