Expect the unexpected when Washington State Coach Mike Leach steps up to the microphone and fields questions from the media.
Three games into the 2013 campaign, Leach clearly is feeling good about Cougar football. And why wouldn’t the WSU head man be pleased thus far?
Here’s what you anticipate as topics of discussion with an FBS head football coach.
The Cougs are off to a respectable 2-1 start having played 12 solid quarters of college football. It looks as if the days of being a doormat for the rest of the Pac-12 are behind Washington State.
Coach Leach offered this assessment of how his team is progressing:
“The biggest thing this year is that we work hard. You’re going to improve when you work hard. We’re a far cry from perfect, but we work hard so we’ve got the opportunity to make the most of our chances to improve.”
- WSU Coach Mike Leach
Surprising many, the Cougs surge toward becoming an elite team once again is being fueled by the defense.
Last Saturday the WSU defense completely shut down Southern Utah’s passing game on the way to a 48-10 victory.
“Our secondary is getting better and better with (Damante) Horton and (Deone) Bucannon playing well,” stated Leach in a matter-of-fact way. He went on to cite freshman Daquawn Brown as a rising star in the defensive backfield along with sophomore Taylor Taliulu.
Nominated for Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Week for his performance against SUU supports Leach pointing out the play of senior safety Bucannon.
In the midst of a serious discussion about his defense, Leach poked a little fun at those who are obsessed with inside-football commentary.
Talking about the outstanding play of sophomore BUCK linebacker Kache Palacio Coach Leach paused appearing to be in deep thought. His hesitation followed comments about Palacio having a great spring camp but failed to turn heads during fall practice. The young man from Serra High School, one of the top football programs in California, has made plenty of noise on the field in actual games. Palacio got the start last week at BUCK and performed well. And for those not familiar with the BUCK position because WSU hasn’t used that terminology prior to the arrival of defensive coordinator Mike Breske, Leach gathered his thoughts to clarify, “I’d actually call it a D-end myself, but that’s not what we do.”
So much for inside-football terminology. Then again, why would you expect Leach to follow popular trends?
It seems inevitable that junior quarterback Connor Halliday is going to be inextricably linked to every discussion about Cougar football this season. Rightfully so. Watching Halliday mature into an Air Raid QB has been a painful process for most of Cougar Nation.
Halliday turned heads in Martin Stadium and around the conference last Saturday. Connor was nominated for Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week based on his play against Southern Utah.
“Thought he played really well. Thought he really got into a rhythm. Thought he was real accurate. Thought he made really good reads,” fired off Leach in review of his starting quarterback.
And for a guy who ended up throwing the ball 41 times last week, Leach could only second guess his quarterback on a two throws. No, neither of those questionable passes would be Halliday’s one interception.
Staying with a critique on Halliday’s performance Leach spelled things out. “How ever many touchdowns he threw there should have been an extra one. That (was) just a busted route.”
And the unexpected…
Coach Leach had everyone at the session chuckling when he explained his basics on first dates and finding the right woman.
“Try to (take her) somewhere where there’s not salad, because girls will try to show off and act like all they eat is salad.” Makes one wonder if Leach has stock in the Soup Plantation restaurant chain.
He went on, “…try to put them somewhere where they’re in a position where they have to put real food in their mouth.”
Leach seems to always be thinking ‘big picture’. This topic was one he certainly had thought through in the past.
“The key thing is make her eat, then she’ll relax, then there’ll be some dialogue and you can get to know her and see if you’re interested in dating her beyond dinner.”
If you step back and compare the hiring of Mike Leach a year and a half ago to the early stages of a dating relationship, Cougar Nation should be very interested in seeing more of their head football coach.