Sophomore quarterback Jeff Tuel is the biggest reason Washington State was able to shock the Oregon State Beavers in Corvallis the last time the Cougars took the field. An under the radar recruit, Tuel took the reigns for Washington State as a true freshman, and has steadily progressed ever since. In 2010, Tuel has become everything the Cougars could hope for and more; a young leader, emerging passer and a dual-threat in the Cougars spread offense. If one player is going to stop the Huskies dead in their tracks, it will be Tuel.
Tuel opened eyes as soon as he set foot on the Washington State campus in Pullman. Without a steady quarterback entrenched as the started, Tuel put on a show in fall camp, leading many to wonder if the Cougs would play him right away. They didn’t deciding to redshirt the freshman, if only momentarily. Four games into the season, the redshirt was off, and Tuel was thrown straight into the fire, against the USC Trojans at The Coliseum.
It was then we got a glimpse of what Tuel could do. His stats weren’t eye-popping, only 14-22 for 130 yards, but it was the plays he made with his feet, escaping the pressure to pick up yardage, and the poise he demonstrated that left fans salivating for the future. A 354-yard passing day against California showed Tuel could be a prolific passer, but the freshman went down with an injury against Arizona, ending his season.
Today will be Tuel’s first Apple Cup as a starter. Since taking the job as a wide-eyed freshman, Tuel has matured in leaps and bounds. In 2010, Tuel has thrown for 2482 yards and 15 touchdowns, completing passes at a 58.6 percent rate.
But it isn’t just Tuel’s arm that strikes fear in opposing defenses. As the Washington State coaching staff has allowed Tuel to run more late in the season, the Cougar offense has reaped the benefits. Last time out, against Oregon State, it was the running game taking center stage. The Cougar run-game had been subpar all season, but behind Tuel’s 79 rushing yards, the Cougars got it going, grinding out a win. The threat of the sophomore quarterbacks feet was on full display as he fake the option, stepped back and floated a 31-yard strike to freshman Marquess Wilson for the score in the second half.
Standing in the way of a bowl game for the Washington Huskies is Tuel and the Cougars. Washington’s ability to slow the sophomore will be telling and could just make the difference in the game. One thing is for sure: Washington State has something special going at quarterback and should continue to be excited for the future with Tuel at the helm.