The Washington State Cougars were expecting big things out of their offense this season. It’s the second year under Mike Leach with his wide open Air Raid system that has turned plenty of quarterbacks and wide receivers into statistical monsters. One of the biggest benefactors was supposed to be Gabe Marks, who had a strong offseason and was poised for a breakout year. So far, however, Marks has been pedestrian at best and needs to get on track for the WSU offense to get rolling.
Through two games, Marks has caught 13 passes for 119 yards. He is averaging a mere 9.2 yards per catch, hasn’t scored a touchdown and his longest gain of the season so far has been 18 yards. Marks was supposed to be the leader of a wide open offensive attack, and while he leads the team in receptions and yards through two games, he’s been anything but explosive. He’s been a favored target, without question, but he isn’t turning those opportunities into big plays.
Part of the problem is undoubtedly the play of quarterback Connor Halliday. Through two games, Halliday has shown horrendous decision making and it has resulted in one touchdown pass and five interceptions. The success of a wide receiver is so dependent on the play of his quarterback, but Marks has to start doing more with the few opportunities he gets.
During spring, Marks was impressing coaches with his ability to go up and fight for the football from defenders. He’s going to have to tap into that now more than ever while Halliday works through whatever issues he has with the offense right now. When Marks gets the ball in the open field, he’s also going to have to start making people miss. The best players in Leach’s system are generally the ones who turn short throws into big gains.
If Marks can get on track, it could help to loosen up opposing defenses and open up bigger plays in the running game and down the middle of the field in the passing game. WSU needs a No. 1 receiver to emerge and be a big play threat. Marks was tabbed to be that guy before the season began but does he have what it takes to make it happen?