Good signs from Christian Jorgenson, Tyler Hilinski at Thursday Night Football

PULLMAN – After two straight no-doubt wins for the defense during Thursday Night Football, this week's edition featured a better answer down the stretch from the offense. Tyler Hilinski and Christian Jorgenson were involved in drives that kept the offense in the competition.

First, though, let's start with Peyton Bender. Something is amiss with the young quarterback. For the last couple weeks, really since he entered the Portland State game in relief of Luke Falk, Bender has struggled in practice. He had one nice showing a few weeks ago, but otherwise issues surround the Cougar’s backup.

Three plays into one drive, Bender couldn’t quite get the snap as he went to hand the ball to James Williams. The ball ended up on the turf, and the defense recovered it.

After the turnover, Bender was given another chance to lead the offense. Bender did a decent job, getting the offense inside the red zone to the 18. That drive stalled, and it ended with some defensive domination, as Treshon Broughton dropped an interception, followed by a fourth-down throw that Deion Singleton picked.

“The key for any quarterback in this offense is just getting the ball in play,” Graham Harrell said. “If things aren’t going well or you don’t feel like you’re seeing the field or whatever, hit a couple check downs. Let your running backs get a few 12-yard gains, and everyone thinks you’re killing it when all you’re doing is hitting a check down.

“For any quarterback that is struggling, just hit a couple easier routes and all of a sudden you start building some false confidence, but any confidence is good confidence,” Harrell said. “You start to feel a little better about yourself and everything clears up.”

Tyler Hilinski stepped in and also had some struggles, but bounced back by converting a pair of fourth downs. The first came in opponent territory at the 36, when Hilinski found Kyle Sweet in the middle of the field for a 10-yard gain. Later, while in the red zone, Hilinski tripped on his lineman’s foot and fell for a seven yard loss. Eventually that led to a fourth-and-11, when Sweet bailed the offense out and caught a touchdown in the back of the end zone.

Christian Jorgensen showed poise in directing the final drive. In past weeks, Jorgenson struggled to do anything productive, often forcing the ball into coverage. This time, there was a different outcome. During a 10-play drive, Jorgenson lead the offense downfield in an impressive manner. Jorgenson's patience is growing, and Thursday he was willing to take what the defense gave him.

Jorgenson had four straight passes of six yards or longer to start the drive. Later, Jorgenson faced some adversity, when Singleton made a couple of nice pass defense plays. On fourth down, Jorgenson audibled and got the ball to James Williams, who ran four yards for a first down. The next play, from the 28, Jorgenson connected with Nick Begg for a touchdown, the offense's second of the night.

The defense played well, forcing a few fumbles that went either out of bounds or back to the offense. It also several tipped balls that caused problems for the Cougar quarterbacks. One near sack of Jorgenson nearly derailed his drive, but he got rid of the ball as the defender grabbed his jersey.

Notable Notes above in the video. 

Thursday Night Football


 QB: Peyton Bender / Tyler Hilinski / Christian Jorgenson

RB: James Williams, Alijah Lee

LT: Andre Dillard / Cedric Bigge-Duren

LG: Cody O’Connell / Noah Osur-Myers / Chris Paz

C: Sam Flor / Carlos Freeman / Noah Osur-Myers (When Paz at C)

RG: Moritz Christ / Mack Hopkins

RT: B.J. Salmonson / Brandon Evers

X: Erik Anderson / Kaleb Fossum

Y: Kyle Sweet / Madigan Taulelei

Z: Xavius Boone / Nick Begg

H: D.J. Thompson / Kainoa Wilson


DE: Jeremiah Mitchell / Jacob Laird

NT: Ngalu Tapa / Devonte McClain

DT: Hunter Mattox / Kingston Hernandez

Rush LB: Logan Tago / Dylan Hanser / Nnamdi Oguayo

WIL LB: Frankie Luvu / Paris Taylor

MIKE LB: Chandler Leniu / Triston Brock

NICKEL CB: Treshon Broughton / Colton Teglovic / Darius Lemora

CB: Kirkland Parker / Dakota Sinchak / Kyle Torres

CB: David Bucannon / Deion Singleton / Aaron Hecker

FS: Hunter Dale / Skylar Cracraft

SS: Calvin Green / Willie Roach / Kameron Powell


Offensive 1s

QB: Luke Falk

RB: Gerard Wicks / Keith Harrington

LT: Joe Dahl

LG: Gunnar Eklund

C: Riley Sorenson

RG: Eduardo Middleton

RT: Cole Madison

X: Dom Williams

Y: River Cracraft

Z: Gabe Marks

H: Robert Lewis


Defensive 1s

DE: Darryl Paulo

NT: Daniel Ekuale / Robert Barber

DT: Destiny Vaeao

Rush LB: Ivan McLennan

WIL LB: Jeremiah Allison

MIKE LB: Peyton Pelluer

NICKEL: Parker Henry / Treshon Broughton

CB: Darrien Molton

CB: Marcellus Pippins

FS: Taylor Taliulu

SS: Shalom Luani


Offensive 2s

QB: Peyton Bender

RB: Jamal Morrow

LT: Andre Dillard

LG: Cody O’Connell

C: Sam Flor

RG: Moritz Christ

RT: B.J. Salmonson

X: Kyrin Priester

Y: John Thompson

Z: Tavares Martin Jr.

H: Tyler Baker


Defensive 2s

DE: Hercules Mata’afa

NT: Ngalu Tapa / Daniel Ekuale

DT: Reggie Coates / Kache Palacio

Rush LB: Logan Tago / Dylan Hanser

WIL LB: Frankie Luvu

MIKE LB: Chandler Leniu

NICKEL CB: Parker Henry

CB: Kirkland Parker

CB: Charleston White

FS: Hunter Dale

SS: Calvin Green

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