Or is it Leach’s sorcery?
Whatever the case, graduate transfer Gardner Minshew has operated Leach’s offense as effectively as any of the prolific quarterbacks Leach has coached.
Minshew leads the nation with 3,852 passing yards. He ranks first in the Pac-12 with 29 touchdown passes and a 69.6 percent completion rate.
(Oddly, Minshew has a lower pass-efficiency rating than Arizona’s Khalil Tate, who has completed 56.2 percent of his throws with a 19-6 touchdown-to-interception ratio. Minshew’s completion percentage is 13.4 points higher, and his TD-INT ratio is 29-7.)
Minshew hasn’t thrown for fewer than 319 yards in a game, and he has completed less than 60 percent of his passes only once (Utah).
None of those numbers really stand out in the context of past Leach quarterbacks. They’re astounding compared to Minshew’s stats at East Carolina.
In 17 career games with the Pirates — mostly against AAC competition — Minshew completed 57.9 percent of his passes with 24 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. He had 365 fewer yards in those games (3,487) than he has in 10 with WSU. Last season, his completion rate topped 60 percent in only three of 10 games.
Maybe we should have seen this coming, though – and not just because Minshew used to be a Pirate. (For the uninitiated, Leach is a pirate aficionado.)
In his last four games at ECU, Minshew averaged 54.8 attempts and 371.5 yards. He topped 400 yards twice and passed for 351 in his final Pirates appearance.