During his time at Eastern Washington, senior receiver Cooper Kupp has collected quite a few pelts of Pac-12 defensive backs and given conniptions to more than a couple FBS defensive coordinators.
The Washington State Cougars have noticed.
While Kupp may not work out in the finest facilities, no Oregon Duck has ever caught as many passes (15) or for as many yards (246) in Autzen Stadium as Kupp did last season.
Though Kupp did not receive a scholarship from either of the state’s Pac-12 schools after playing his high school ball in Yakima, he still caught three touchdown passes in Husky Stadium two years ago.
Premium content for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
While the Eagles came up short in both games, the Cougars are well aware that Kupp is precisely the kind of player who can key an upset.
“I think he’s one of the best players in the country, regardless of level,” said WSU nickel Parker Henry. “I think he’s probably the most productive receiver in the country the last three years. He’s a great player and it will be a great test for us.”
The 6-foot-2, 205-pound receiver is not some super-focused, gritty kid who succeeds despite his lack of physical gifts. Sure, Kupp has all the moxie in the world, but he’s also a big, fast receiver who can beat up a defensive back and then outjump him.
He’s won three FCS Offensive Player of the Year awards, although many of his best performances have come against FBS competition.
Even WSU’s offensive players have heard of Kupp.
“He’s really good, I think he has like 200 yards on every Pac-12 team he plays,” receiver Gabe Marks said
As a freshman in 2013, Kupp set an FCS record with touchdown catches in 14 consecutive games. His firstcollege football game came at Pac-12 foe Oregon State.
Kupp had five catches for 119 yards and two touchdowns against the Beavers, and the Eagles slayed their Power Five opponent.
The Cougars have to know Kupp will almost certainly get his stats on Saturday, the season-opener for both schools. After all, he’s averaging more than nine catches, 170 yards and better than two scores in games against Pac-12 schools.
Kupp would also surely love to end his college career with a .500 record against the major West Coast college football conference, a goal he can achieve with a win over WSU.
One advantage he will not have, however, is an opponent that dismisses his accomplishments or treats him lightly in any way.
“Their whole receiving corps is quality,” defensive coordinator Alex Grinch said. “He is faster than you want him to be. He makes the tough catch, great ball skills, very much reminds me of some of the guys we’ve had who have played at a high level in our offense. That’s a major, major compliment.”