‘He’s gotta be our engine that starts the car’: Cameron Ward is key in Washington State’s new, ‘quarterback-driven’ offense

PULLMAN — In Washington State’s “quarterback-pushed offense,” Cameron Ward is the crucial to ignition. “He’s gotta…

PULLMAN — In Washington State’s “quarterback-pushed offense,” Cameron Ward is the crucial to ignition.

“He’s gotta be our motor that starts off the auto just about every working day,” coach Jake Dickert explained Saturday immediately after the third working day of spring camp at sunny Rogers Field.

A touted sophomore transfer, Ward has drawn large anticipations from a fan base that predicts stardom and a 1st-yr coaching team that’s preaching the value of a QB’s command in its new program, the “Coug Raid” — a modified kind of the Air Raid.

Ward is the focal issue of the offense, and he relishes that assignment.

“It just displays how considerably have confidence in mentor Dickert desires to place in his quarterback,” Ward stated.

“I like that it is a quarterback-driven offense. The quarterback has to know every thing, from the O-line, to the receivers, to the running backs. … Also, we throw the ball a large amount. I’m a significant particular person. I enjoy to toss the ball.”

Ward will have a lot of possibilities to showcase his arm. When working the exact same offense final period at FCS Incarnate Word beneath head mentor Eric Morris — now the Cougs’ initial-year offensive coordinator — Ward threw 46 passes per game. He led the classification in that category and in landing passes (47) although finishing third nationally in full yards as a result of the air (4,648).

Taking into consideration the sheer workload for a quarterback in this offense, Dickert observed “mentality” and “leadership” as the two most essential traits for a Coug Raid signal caller.

“When you are going to toss the ball 40 to let us say 60 instances a recreation, you gotta have a self-assurance in you and know it is not constantly heading to be great,” Dickert reported. “It’s just a each day grind. … It definitely starts between the ears, then you just gotta have it in your heart and I think that is what all those guys (the WSU QBs) do.

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“We just want to maintain creating (Ward’s) leadership, his voice, his demeanor — every thing matters.”

Ward arrived to Pullman about two months ago and essentially secured starting off obligations upon arrival. He took the broad the vast majority of reps in workforce drills through the opening 7 days of spring ball soon after an 8-7 days pre-camp time period, which he expended familiarizing himself with his new surroundings and assisting with the set up procedure of the Air Raid at team meetings.

“Everyone was anxious to get back on the area,” he explained. “I’m attempting to clearly show what I can do, generating that jump from FCS to Power 5, and just finding the workforce with each other, receiving that camaraderie that we need to have to have by the year.”

Dickert explained Ward’s 1st several days in a Cougar uniform as “fast and furious.”

The 6-foot-2, 223-pounder from southeastern Texas strike the ground managing and is having a really feel for the breadth of his responsibilities.

“You’re seriously setting up to see, from my vantage place, his comprehending of what we’re anticipating from him,” Dickert reported.

The mentor is putting an emphasis on intangibles, but Ward’s talent set is a lot more than deserving of mention.

He manufactured a number of highlights Saturday with precisely placed, rainbow-arching deep passes, and manufactured the long ball appear easy during just one-on-one particular drills involving go-catchers and defensive backs. Ward exhibited precision and arm energy on the run, and showed off a swift-hearth sidearm toss, passing all over closing defenders on swift outs.

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“He’s a various quarterback,” linebacker Travion Brown reported. “I’ve in no way performed against a quarterback that throws sidearm. … He’s a great, explosive player. He’ll be performing a little something massive for us.”

Dickert as opposed Ward’s quarterbacking applications to those of NFL excellent Brett Favre, who experienced a rocket arm and a knack for improvisation.

“Off-script, (Ward is) extraordinary,” stated Dickert, a Wisconsin indigenous. “I grew up on Brett Favre. That is who he reminds me of a minimal little bit.

“Getting the pads on, you are like, ‘Hey, he’s a big person. He appears to be like like a single of our linebackers.’ You can see the arm expertise … and his potential to make throws almost everywhere on the subject. It is just amazing expertise there that we’ve obtained to harness and build.”

Of program, he’ll experience some hurdles in the course of his transition from a mid-tier FCS convention to the Pac-12. He had hassle obtaining windows in 7-on-7 drills later on in the session and was intercepted in the close zone by Kaleb Ford-Dement.

Ward claimed he’s altering to the Cougar secondary’s protection strategies and the velocity of WSU’s defensive line.

“We have a actually good D-line below. Our edges, RJ Stone and Brennan Jackson, those two men get upfield a whole lot,” he stated. “They’re incredibly rapidly, cell, athletic. Which is definitely the major point.”

He’ll also admit that he demands to be extra disciplined with his footwork on speedy passes. Ward and WSU’s receivers are working on their timing, much too. A couple makes an attempt fell incomplete in front of or guiding their meant targets.

Ward commended WSU’s deep pool of returning move-catchers, which contains returning starters in outdoors receivers De’Zhaun Stribling and Donovan Ollie. Junior slot Lincoln Victor appears primed for a breakout year — he has created a handful of impressive plays by way of 3 times at camp — and program vet Renard Bell returns for his seventh year right after missing 2021 with an ACL personal injury. Bell suited up in pads Saturday and participated sparingly in drills.

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“The receiver space is great. I really feel like our receiver area is the ideal element of our offense proper now,” Ward explained. “The way they can make performs in just one-on-a single coverage, the catches they can make. … Our receiver home is heading to evolve. Appropriate now, it’s the best element of our offense.”

But possibly not for very long — that is, if Ward lives up to expectations and takes firm grasp of the wheel in WSU’s new, quarterback-driven system.

“(Dickert) desires to make this a participant-led group, which it has to be in purchase to gain championships,” Ward said. “Putting that (on) your quarterback … folks say (it is) a whole lot of pressure, but I really don’t believe in stress or any of that. At the conclude of the working day, it’s 11-on-11.

“It’s just truly owning that attitude just about every and each individual day: Go out and prove by yourself.”

Cougs supporting Cougs

The WSU men’s basketball workforce stopped by spring camp Saturday and the soccer squad gave its peers a right mail-off to New York Metropolis.

Dickert paused follow so his staff could congratulate the Cougar hoops program for advancing to the NIT semifinal round. WSU faces Texas A&M at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at Madison Sq. Garden.

Soccer gamers lined up across Rogers Industry, forming a tunnel for their basketball counterparts to wander as a result of before they headed to the airport.