NCAA FOOTBALL 2018 - Apple Cup - Washington State Cougars vs Washington Huskies - Martin Stadium - Seattle

November 23, 2018 - Pullman, WA, USA - Washington Huskies running back Myles Gaskin (9) gets tackled by Washington State Cougars cornerback Marcus Strong (4) . The Washington Huskies defeated the Washington State Cougars 28-15 at Martin Field in Pullman, WA. 

After Washington State’s 54-53 victory over Oregon State, Cougars running back Max Borghi was asked for a score prediction for Friday’s Apple Cup against Washington.

“No score, but I will be scoring,” Borghi said. “A lot.”

Then he tapped the table with his hands, grinned and left a room full of chuckling reporters behind him. During his press conference on Monday, Washington head coach Chris Petersen was asked about Borghi’s comments. He smiled, too.

“You know how we are around here,” Petersen said. “We just want to go play. But that’s rivalries. That’s kind of the beauty of some of the rivalries and it makes it kind of fun. He’s a good player.”

There wasn’t much trash talk leading up to last season’s game, a 28-15 Huskies victory in the snow. But afterward, a few UW players and coaches got in a few jabs. — most notably, defensive coordinator Jimmy Lake.

Here’s just one of Lake’s postgame comments: “It makes it real easy for us. Maybe next year, they’ll throw us a little curveball. It makes it very easy when you know what you’re going to get (offensively). It’s awesome.”

Petersen had something to say about that, too.

“As a coach, I can’t explain it,” Petersen said on his aversion to trash talk. “I just don’t think a team needs any more motivation. I think both teams, certainly in rivalry games, are really motivated. There’s going to be enough fun and shenanigans and all that kind of stuff out there. To me, I just want to focus on playing hard and playing good. It’s hard for me to say why am I not into this? Coach (Mike) Leach, he may have a different perspective. You should probably ask him about that.”

Speaking of Leach, the two head coaches crossed paths at Pac-12 media day, and Petersen had this to say about their relationship: “It’s hard on rivalry week because everyone wants to hate the other coach. I’m like you guys, I get a kick out of him. For a while, and then I’ve got to walk away because he can hold the mic for a long, long time.”

But would Leach be as funny if UW lost?

“No, he would not be,” Petersen said with a laugh. “That I know. That’s the rivalry. That’s the thing about it. There’s a lot of Cougars in this town, right? You see all the license plates and flags and all that stuff. If you win, it doesn’t really bother you. If you lose, it bothers you for a long time.”

Offensive questions and leadership concerns

Petersen didn’t think the Huskies were missing their edge during the loss to Colorado. But when talking about the offense, he did use the word “panic.” He walked it back afterward, unsure if that was the right word. But all the three-and-outs against the Buffaloes, all those drives that went nowhere, were at the very least “unsettling.”

“There’s a tendency to press a little more,” Petersen said. “I think the good teams can just shake it off and reload and go make a play, and we haven’t been able to do that.”

Heading into the final game of the regular season, there are still more questions than answers surrounding this year’s version of the Huskies. Most of them center around the offense. Later in Petersen’s press conference, the offense’s troubles led to another inquiry.

Have UW’s players bought into quarterback Jacob Eason’s leadership?

“You know, I don’t think of it like that,” Petersen said. “I don’t put that on him. He’s the new guy. I think Jacob, the one thing I know about him, he’s an awesome kid. That kid, guy drops a pass, protection’s not right, game doesn’t go well, he doesn’t even kind of point fingers. That is not him at all. I think his leadership is fine, I think he’s grown this year as a leader.

The Ty Jones question

After missing most of the season with an injury, junior wide receiver Ty Jones is expected to redshirt. He’s appeared in three games: Stanford, Oregon State and Colorado. But he hasn’t played many snaps, and he has yet to catch a pass.

“Guys have to put it together in practice,” Petersen said. “They have to earn the reps over somebody else. Nothing is handed here. This is a meritocracy. That’s how it is. You’ve got to earn your stripes.

“He’d been out for most of the year. Other guys are playing. So we are trying to get him more involved, but it’s got to show up in practice. He’s been doing well, but not necessarily over the other guys to say, ‘Hey, this guy needs to go in over the other guys.’ ”

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