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Washington State’s Cameron Ward adding his name to list of Pac-12’s high-profile quarterbacks

Threw for 404 yards, 4 TDs vs. Oregon State

By ANNE M. PETERSON, AP Sports Writer
Published: September 27, 2023, 4:31pm
3 Photos
Washington State quarterback Cameron Ward throws a pass during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Oregon State, Saturday, Sept. 23, 2023, in Pullman, Wash.
Washington State quarterback Cameron Ward throws a pass during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Oregon State, Saturday, Sept. 23, 2023, in Pullman, Wash. (AP Photo/Young Kwak) Photo Gallery

Washington State coach Jake Dickert believes Cougars quarterback Cameron Ward deserves national recognition.

That’s a tall order even in just the Pac-12, which has Oregon’s Bo Nix, Washington’s Michael Penix Jr., Colorado’s Shedeur Sanders and USC’s Caleb Williams grabbing all the attention.

But Ward is showing there’s room for more in the Conference of Quarterbacks.

“I think Cam deserves to be mentioned with the best quarterbacks in the country, period. He continues to show that and I think nationally we undervalue him and what he’s doing,” Dickert said.

Ward threw for 404 yards and four touchdowns last Saturday in a 38-35 victory over then No. 14 Oregon State. As a result, the Cougars climbed five spots to No. 16 in the AP Top 25.

The top three quarterbacks for total passing yards nationwide are all in the Pac-12. Penix leads with 1,636 yards, Sanders is second with 1,410 and Ward is third with 1,389. They also rank 1-2-3 in average yards per game. Ward ranks second for total yards with 1,498.

Ward has something else that sets him apart from the big names in the Pac-12: He leads the nation for most pass attempts without a pick.

Ward doesn’t care about the accolades, he just wants to win in what is potentially the final season for the conference. The Cougars (4-0, 1-0 Pac-12) have this weekend off.

“If I do my part, teammates do their part, we all play as one, I feel like everything will take care of itself,” Ward said.

In the first half when Ward scrambled to avoid defenders and still managed to throw a touchdown pass to Josh Kelly, Dickert shook his head on the sidelines and then grinned. Later, he said his junior QB was “freestyling.”

Ward came to the Cougars after setting records at Incarnate Word, where in just two seasons he set records for career passing yards with 6,908 and touchdowns with 71. He followed his Incarnate Word coach, Eric Morris, who was offensive coordinator under Dickert last season. Morris is now head coach at North Texas.

Ward is certainly happy that he ended up in Pullman.

“From coming out of high school a zero star recruit to ending up where I am now, the coaches that I’ve met along my journey, the players I’ve met along my journey, I got a chance to build some great relationships. I’d probably say this is one of the most connected teams I’ve been been around all my football life,” Ward said.

REPEAT HEISMAN SEASON?

Williams arguably leads the Pac-12’s quarterbacks corps as the reigning Heisman Trophy winner. So far this season he has thrown for 1,200 yards and 15 touchdowns, with no interceptions for No. 8 USC.

He threw for 322 yards and three touchdowns, while running for two more scores, in the Trojans’ 42-28 victory last weekend over Arizona State. On Saturday USC (4-0, 2-0) visits Colorado (3-1, 0-1).

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“The kid is a playmaker. Deserved the Heisman Trophy a year ago, which he secured,” Colorado coach Deion Sanders said. “I love to see his personality on commercials and in pressers. He’s the epitome of class and confidence in what he brings to the table. He makes plays. He makes that team go. He’s a handful.”

PENIX JUMPS

Washington’s quarterback is getting his own Heisman hype after putting up some gaudy stats in a 59-32 victory over Cal last weekend. Penix threw for 304 yards and four touchdowns against the Golden Bears.

The No. 7 Huskies have scored 40 or more points in all four of its games this season, and Penix is a big reason why. He’s averaging an eye-popping 409 yards passing per game and has total 16 touchdowns.

Washington (4-0, 1-0) visits Arizona (3-1, 1-0) this weekend.

BE LIKE BO

Like Dickert, Oregon coach Dan Lanning has nothing but praise for his own quarterback, Bo Nix.

“You see all the plays that he throws and the plays he makes with his feet. You don’t see all the checks that he makes. You don’t see all that he does for this team. You don’t see his leadership. He sent a text to me this morning that was impactful for me. That guy shapes me and he makes me a better person,” Lanning said.

Nix threw for three touchdowns and Oregon (4-0, 1-0) defeated Colorado 42-6, taking some of the sheen off the Buffaloes under Deion Sanders. The Ducks visit Stanford (1-3, 0-2) on Saturday.

PRIME SON

Colorado’s Shedeur Sanders is leading the Buffaloes’ turnaround this season, even though he didn’t have a very productive game against Oregon. Sanders threw for 152 yards and a touchdown in Eugene on Saturday, but he was sacked seven times.

Colorado needs to figure out a way to protect him better.

“We’ve got to fix it. You don’t want that,” coach Sanders said. “You want him to endure throughout the season because when he’s doing his thing, we do our thing. You always have to flip it to the positive side. Giving up the sacks we’ve given up, the kid is still what, 77% in completion percentage, and over 70 percent last week? You know how phenomenal that is?”

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