Imagine what Stanford quarterback Davis Mills could do with a full week of practice.
Two weeks ago, the senior was forced to watch the Cardinal’s season-opening, 35-14 loss at then-No. 12 Oregon from his hotel room because of what the Pac-12 Conference later acknowledged was a false positive COVID-19 reading due to testing protocol errors.
Mills wasn’t allowed to rejoin the team until the following Friday’s practice, and a day later went out and completed 31 of 56 passes for 327 yards and a touchdown, as well as throwing two 2-point conversions and rushing for 36 yards and a score in Stanford’s 35-32 loss to Colorado.
Mills has an entire week to prepare for Saturday’s home game against Washington State (1-1, 1-1).
“We don’t know how the Oregon game goes if he’s able to play,” Stanford coach David Shaw said. “We don’t know how (the Colorado) game goes if he’s able to practice all week. Those are things that are unknown.”
What is known is that Stanford is off to an 0-2 start, including 0-2 in the Pac-12.
“I think it was obvious that he was rusty,” Shaw said. “It’s unfortunate. I’m not happy about it, by any stretch of the imagination. Not much we could have done about it. But to say that it didn’t affect his performance, I think would be inaccurate. So hopefully we’ll play much better from here on out. We’re capable.”
Senior wideout Connor Wedington, who also missed the opener because of contact-tracing protocols stemming from Mills’ test, had a game-high eight catches for 77 yards and a 2-point conversion against Colorado. The Cardinal scored the game’s final 16 points, but still suffered their sixth straight loss dating to last season.
The Cougars are coming off a 43-29 home loss to Oregon after leading by 12 points late in the first half.
WSU freshman quarterback Jayden de Laura was 25 of 39 for 321 yards and two touchdowns, but multiple reports Friday said he will not play against Stanford because of a COVID-19 positive test.
Redshirt freshman Gunner Cruz is expected to start in de Laura’s place and make his college football debut.
Blake Mazza’s 49-yard field goal with 24 seconds left in the half gave the Cougars a 19-7 lead, but a lengthy kickoff return and a 57-yard pass put Oregon in position to score a touchdown and take the momentum into halftime.
“That took an emotional toll,” first-year Cougars coach Nick Rolovich said. “I stress being the last one to score before halftime.”
The Cougars, who opened with a 38-28 victory at Oregon State, have allowed 50 second-half points through two games.
“I don’t think we’re wearing down,” Rolovich said. “They’re playing their hearts out. … But at the end of the day, we’ve got to make big plays, we’ve got to execute better, we’ve got to coach better. I think that’s about the gist of it.”
Running back Max Borghi, a first-team, preseason all-conference selection, has missed the Cougars’ first two games with an apparent back injury and Rolovich indicated his return is not imminent. Deon McIntosh, a transfer from Notre Dame, has averaged 7 yards a carry through the first two games, totaling 239 yards and two touchdowns.
Cougars safety Ayden Hector, a former Stanford signee, was named the Pac-12’s Freshman Player of the Week after recovering two fumbles and intercepting a pass — all in the first half — against the Ducks. The honor went to de Laura the previous week.
The Cougars have won four consecutive games in the series against Stanford, including a 49-22 victory last season in Pullman, Wash.
–Field Level Media