LARAMIE, Wyo. – Max Borghi will make fewer of those “freshman mistakes” than the majority of his peers this season, and if the running back’s college debut was any indication, he doesn’t let them linger when they do happen.
That can be a rare quality for a rookie, but it’s one reason – rather, one of many – the Cougars are thrilled about both the immediate and long-term future of their true freshman.
In the second quarter of Washington State’s 41-19 win over Wyoming at War Memorial Stadium, Borghi collected a shovel pass from Gardner Minshew, then turned his body to start downfield. Simultaneously, Borghi crashed into the back of a Cougar offensive lineman and had the ball stripped loose by the Cowboys’ Garrett Crall.
A review determined Borghi coughed the ball up before his knee hit the ground, Wyoming took over on offense and scored five short plays later to cut WSU’s deficit to 10-9.
“I just didn’t even think about it,” Borghi said. “You’ve got to move on. If something like that happens, just play the next play, don’t even think about it. Don’t let it sit on your back like that.”
Borghi’s answer? A 6-yard touchdown hookup with Minshew in the third quarter that gave the Cougars a lead they wouldn’t relinquish. The quarterback threw to Borghi in the flat, he picked up a big block and withstood a hit from a Wyoming defensive back as he dove across the goal line.
The multi-purpose running back then added his first career rushing touchdown in the fourth quarter, reenacting a scene many of his teammates have become familiar with through spring and fall practices.
After taking a handoff from Minshew, Borghi pinballed through a minefield of Wyoming defenders, shedding off at least three tacklers before one carried him into the end zone for a 14-yard score.
“He played well,” WSU coach Mike Leach said. “He started out a little rough early and then settled in there and runs really tough, runs hard. He’s hard to tackle.”
Borghi didn’t pile up the stats his backfield mate James Williams did, but the freshman still finished with six catches for 18 yards, and had one carry for 14 yards in his first game for the Cougars.
WSU doesn’t have a Wyoming native on the roster, but Borghi’s the closest thing to it. The freshman hails from the outskirts of Denver in Arvada, Colorado, which is located just 130 miles south of Laramie, so the Borghi clan ran nearly 35 people deep for Saturday’s game.
“Nothing like playing in front of people I love,” he said. “It was almost like I was back in a high school atmosphere where all my family could come watch me and everything.”
Borghi figures he’ll have to wrangle a few more tickets from teammates when the Cougars play Colorado in Boulder later this season.
“I’m going to shoot for 60,” he laughed. “A lot for sure because I don’t think the team’s going to be using many of those tickets so I’m going to need a lot of those tickets.”