A year ago, a Gage Gubrud Halloween costume would have been mostly ambiguous. But a year later, heading into the barnburner of the season thus far, football fans certainly know of the headband-wearing No. 8 for the Eastern Washington University football team.
The sophomore quarterback was given two more awards on Monday (Oct. 24), earning the prestigious STATS National FCS Offensive Player of the Week Award as well as Big Sky Conference Offensive Player of the Week from the league office. One day earlier, Gubrud was the College Sports Madness FCS Offensive Player of the Week and its BSC Offensive Player of the Week after passing for a school-record 520 yards in a 41-17 win at Montana State on Oct. 22. He also earned FCS Performer of the Week honorable mention accolades from College Football Performance Awards.
Gubrud completed 37-of-51 passes, and broke the previous school record of 491 set by teammate Jordan West in 2015 versus Sacramento State. Gubrud had touchdown passes to four different receivers versus MSU, and his 538 yards of total offense were second only to the school-record 551 he had in the first start of his career in a 45-42 victory at Washington State.
"I like to break the season down to thirds, to get a feel for how someone is playing early in the season, in the middle of the season and late in the season – especially when you are talking about young quarterbacks," said Eastern head coach Beau Baldwin. "The thing I love about Gage compared to his first three games is that he's playing incredibly patient and disciplined. He's continuing to take what a defense gives him, and teams can sometimes frustrate you when they force you to continually take everything underneath. He's handling that really well, and regardless of the statistics and yards, he's taking care of the football a ton better than he did at the beginning of the year. Those are the steps he's taken that I've been most impressed with, and how he's growing as a quarterback"
After just seven career starts, he already owns six of the top 11 single game total offense performances in school history and five of the top 18 passing performances. In his last three games alone, Gubrud has 1,441 yards passing (480.3 per game) and 1,577 in total offense (525.7) with 15 touchdown passes and one more on the ground.
He and his teammates return to action this Saturday (Oct. 29) when the third-ranked Eagles host the 16th-ranked Montana Grizzlies. In last year's meeting with Montana, six turnovers spelled doom for Eastern in a 57-16 trouncing in Missoula. That game marked the quarterbacking debut of Gubrud, who completed 7-of-13 passes for 66 yards and an interception, and also had 18 net rushing yards and a touchdown.
He enters the rematch with UM with a string of 140 passes without an interception -- EWU's streak as a team is at 169. Eastern receiver Cooper Kupp has career totals of 37 catches for 520 yards and three touchdowns in four games against the Griz, as well as a punt return for a TD and a passing score.
The 2014 graduate of McMinnville (Ore.) High School has passed for 2,871 yards, 27 touchdowns and a .709 completion percentage, and has also rushed for a team-leading 372 yards (4.8 per carry) and four more scores. As a result, on Oct. 4 he was named to the mid-season "Watch List" for the STATS NCAA Football Championship Subdivision Offensive Player of the Year Award, joining Eagle senior wide receiver and last year's recipient of the award, Cooper Kupp. Gubrud was one of four players added to the 22 players already on the watch list.
This is Gubrud's second game to receive national honors, having earned College Football Performance Awards FCS National Performer of the Week for his performance against Washington State. He also received honorable mention recognition after both the UC Davis and Northern Colorado games in early October. In addition, he's been honored as Big Sky Conference Offensive Player of the Week three times by the league office, and twice by College Sports Madness.