When the Washington State Cougars take the field, it should be pretty obvious that they’re going to throw the ball. Last week against the Oregon Ducks, Connor Halliday threw an NCAA-record 89 passes while the Cougars attempted just 12 runs the entire game. That imbalance leads to some big numbers for Halliday but also creates opportunities for the receivers to put on a show. While Gabe Marks remains the centerpiece of the WSU receiving corps, Vince Mayle has emerged on the other side as a reliable pass-catching threat.
Mayle is a big target at 6-foot-3 and 240 pounds and uses his size and strength to break press coverages with regularity at the line of scrimmage. He’s proven to be just too strong for defensive backs who try and disrupt his route with contact and too fast for them to recover once he’s beaten them off the line. His season started off slowly with no catches in the season opener against the Auburn Tigers and not playing against the USC Trojans, but he quickly became a favorite redzone target for Halliday catching five touchdowns in the last six games.
But he’s proving to be even more than just a redzone target in recent weeks. His ability to go up and get the football in traffic along the sideline has been huge for Halliday in recent weeks and the quarterback has looked Mayle’s way more often as the season has gone on. In the last three games, he’s caught 14 passes, including seven against Oregon, for 247 yards and three touchdowns. He has seemingly supplanted Dom Williams in recent weeks as the team’s No. 2 receiver behind Marks, though Mayle still ranks third on the team in receiving for the season.
He isn’t without his faults, however. Against Oregon, Mayle fumbled the football into the endzone which led to a touchback for Oregon and fell down on a route in the endzone that ended up as one of Halliday’s four interceptions on the day. For a receiver with his size, speed and skill set, he really should have had a more immediate impact, though Mike Leach will undoubtedly be happy with his contributions late rather than never.
He doesn’t have a lot of experience to rely on, this being his first year on the field for the Cougars, and unfortunately won’t get much of an opportunity to grow as a senior. But there is plenty of raw potential to like about Vince Mayle and if WSU gets to a bowl game this season, he’s going to be a major reason why.