Cougs Begin Spring With A Flurry


Spring practice began for Washington State Cougar football Thursday afternoon mirroring the season of 2012. The weather on the Palouse offered up a metaphor which might be a positive omen for Cougar Nation.

There was wind, rain, sleet, snow and sunshine all packed into another spring day in Pullman. When players sauntered onto the practice field donning their practice jerseys and helmets, they were greeted by blustery gusts, snow flurries transitioning into flying slush before the guys were coated with some basic wet stuff.

Last season WSU began their campaign blinded by a blizzard of confusion clouding their first few games. Coach Mike Leach was more animated during postgame interviews than his team was on the field of play. The team began to snap out of their funk midway through the schedule, but only offered brief glimpses of a squad capable of winning games in the Pac-12. But by the time things were near the end, the Cougs came alive on the field offering fans hope and optimism easily associated with a sunny spring afternoon on the campus of Washington State.

Watching spring ball is not only a pleasant diversion for football fans, it provides the opportunity to envision grand accomplishments in the coming season.

For many, their vision will be focus on the more glamorous positions. In the case of WSU, year in and year out it’s always about the quarterback. Expect plenty of commentary about the battle this spring camp between junior Connor Halliday and redshirt freshman Austin Apodaca.

Before you get distracted by headline grabbing players who display outstanding individual performance, heed the words of the Cougar head coach as he summarized what spring practice will be about in the coming weeks.

"“First of all, thoroughly evaluate where everyone is at. Get them in the best specific position that you can. Refine (their) techniques to as high a level as we can. Then as they enter the off season they have plenty of tools (for them) to work with to continue to improve so that we’re at as high a level as we can (be) when we start fall camp.” – WSU Coach Mike Leach"


The battle to earn a grip on the reins to run Coach Leach’s Air Raid offense has begun.

Fortunately for both Halliday and Apodaca the guy who is tapped for No. 1 isn’t a decision based on one or two practices. Neither guy could win or lose the job based on what they did Thursday. Halliday has the edge in experience, though he doesn’t have a huge body of work. Apodaca arrived in Pullman with a football résumé loaded with facts showing efficiency and accuracy at the high school level. Halliday has started Pac-12 games. Apodaca aspires to start a Pac-12 game. Their stage is set.

Let’s remember the core of what football truly is…a team sport.

A plus for Coach Leach and his team entering a second spring is familiarity. Significant time won’t be required to simply understand how to run drills, sessions or plays. More practice time will be invested into executing drills, sessions and plays. Subtle difference that will lead to a better result by the time spring ball wraps up.

Here’s a look at the mix of players filling out the football roster:




There’s the nucleus of the 2013 squad for Coach Leach. The players in spring practice comprise the core of any college football team, supplemented with the arrival of incoming freshmen and a few JC transfers.

Of note this year, there will be an addition to the WSU roster of a student-athlete who played running back for Arizona and has opted to use his remaining year of eligibility to join what promises to be a special team.

One practice completed. Fourteen to go.

When all is said and done over the coming weeks, Coach Leach is clear on what spring practice is all about. It’s not about the totality of a football season in terms of wins and losses. At the risk of redundancy, it’s about getting ready to get ready. It’s about one step at a time. That’s the ball players need to keep their eyes on.

"“They need to become the best players they can (be). Focus on winning their individual battles rather than seasons.There’s going to be a whole lot of individual battles… We’ve got to be really good and have everybody winning those.” – WSU Coach Mike Leach"

Spring prepares the Cougs for fall camp. You know the rest…