It goes without saying, Washington State head man Mike Leach isn’t your typical college football coach.
Very few coaches would review game film from a victory in which his offensive unit racked up 570-yards and then talk about a need for better production out of the inside receiver position.
Welcome to the football world of Coach Leach.
Specifically, Leach mentioned one of his concerns during his weekly media conference.
“We’d like a little more production in that position than what we’re getting,” says Leach.
Sophomore Brett Bartolone led WSU in receptions running out of the slot position. This season he’s been forced to the sidelines (player injuries are not shared with media by WSU) for a couple of games which may provide a clue to a drop-off in production at the “H” receiver.
To effectively run the Air Raid offense of Leach, it’s critical there is depth at all four receiver slots.
Getting a chance to play in front of his hometown family and friends, junior Rickey Galvin turned in a great performance running inside routes against Cal last weekend in Berkeley. Galvin’s play definitely caught the eye of Leach. “I think it was Rickey’s best game this year,” praised his coach.
So what should Cougar fans expect?
Leach suggested some players who aren’t getting much chance for playing time as outside receivers may have to learn a new position to see the field during games.
“We have players that are kind of emerging but somewhere down the road one of them might become an inside receiver.”
Guys will be competing this week for a chance to be the one to boost production in what is already a potent passing attack. Only Oregon and Cal average more yardage through the air than Washington State.
“You try to have some combination of the best 8 out there.”
Why the talk about adding more production to one of the best pass attacks in the Pac-12?
“…it’s important to have distribution,” Leach explains. When 12 different players haul in at least one catch, as was the case against Cal, defensive coverages are challenged, pressured and worn down over the course of 60-minutes.
Balancing the “H” receiver concern of Mike Leach is improved production out of his running backs.
Against Cal Leach points out, “Connor (Halliday) did a good job getting it to the backs. Despite the fact we didn’t run it too much, they had quite a few touches. It went pretty good, as far as, there was a balance to how many touches by position. That was one of the bright spots of the game.”
Logging 150-yards of all-purpose yardage by Marcus Mason qualifies as a “bright spot” for Cougar running backs.
The trio of Mason, Teondray Caldwell and Jeremiah Laufasa have carried the load at running back for Washington State through the first six games. When it comes to carrying the rock, staying in to pass protect or slip out of the backfield as a passing target, Leach is definitely pleased.
“We’ve got three (running backs) playing pretty well. All three are improving.” Ever the perfectionist, Leach adds, “All three have a long ways to go.”
The critical eye of Coach Leach observed progress by his team following the Cal game, and midway through the schedule, “We played together reasonably well. We were explosive.”
There’s need for improvement to get Washington State to the next level as a competitive football team. But Leach boils it down to one key factor. “We can be more consistent.”
WSU will get their chance to prove they can consistently play four quarters of quality football this coming Saturday night in front of a sold out Martin Stadium in Pullman.
WASHINGTON STATE NOTES
- Junior Mitchell Peterson out of West Valley HS in Spokane came to WSU as a walk on. For the first time since arriving in Pullman, he earned some quality playing time on defense against Cal. When asked about Peterson, Coach Leach said, “He plays well. He plays hard. He’s one of the most versatile guys as far as doing a lot of things. Glad he got in there. Happy to see him play well.” Aside from putting in the work necessary to earn playing time Leach pointed out Peterson’s work in the classroom was a significant factor in earning his way to a scholarship.
- When a writer attempted to drag a comment out of Mike Leach on the overall health of starting quarterback Connor Halliday the response should come as no surprise. The question referenced Halliday slamming his helmet on the bench after limping to the sideling following the first WSU scoring drive. “I think he was just fine. I don’t think he was in pain. There’s always a little bit of drama out there. I wasn’t distressed in any way. And I’m sure he wasn’t either.” No, Leach wasn’t thinking about whether or not Austin Apodaca might be called upon early on.