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Mike Leach speaks

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — Mike Leach spoke about a wide array of topics this afternoon during the first of his weekly conference calls. It went for about 33 minutes, so we'll post the first half of his transcript now and pass the rest along later.


(What do you know about BYU?) “Good team like they always are, they’re a team that’s had a tradition of winning for several decades. They’re not trying to reinvent the wheel, they’re just doing the same stuff they’ve done over the years. Play hard, have a lot of seniors, well coached and great tradition and great setting.”

(What's your ideal non-conference schedule look like?) “Have them all at home — you asked for my ideal, not anybody else’s — have them all at home and good competition, some of them definitely games where you may have the upper hand as far as talent so that you can develop your underclassmen for when you get into conference so that they get experience out there on the field. You want the schedule that best prepares you for your conference, that’s what counts the most is winning your conference.

(Any special meaning going back to BYU?) “Not really. I’ve been there several times, a lot, and the biggest thing is you go through town and then you’re in your routine and then once you do that everybody presents you so many problems out there on the field it kind of preoccupies your attention.”

(There were exactly two reporters in the room, which Leach had some fun with by interjecting the following)

“As you guys can hear out there on the phone, we have a tremendous crowd here. You’re missing an incredible time. There’s popcorn and there’s beautiful girls in the background. There’s refreshments and I think a band’s going to play here a little later on. Come out here next time so you can join in all the fun. OK, let me see, who out there in the crowd – so many people have their hands up – OK, you way in the back, did you have a question?”

(On BYU's defense) “Just really I think a good solid team. I think a good solid team and I think just well coached, well executed. They kind of play off, they want to make you execute as many plays as possible to score. But then they’re good on offense, too. They’ve got a quarterback that runs around a little bit, that type of thing.”

(Does anything concern you defensively?) “You always worry about explosives and big plays. You don’t want to put a bunch of good plays together on defense and then have them get loose on you, and then we want to get turnovers and put pressure on the quarterback but he moves his feet pretty good. I don’t know how fast he is but he moves his feet pretty good and he’s a guy that can get out of the pocket and hurt you when you feel like you’ve got him hemmed in a little bit. The biggest thing, we’ve got to just play consistently and steady. They’re a good offense, they run the ball good, they can throw the ball some and they have a lot of weapons, a good defense that can do both, run it and throw it, we’ve just got to play good on defense against them.”

(How efficiently were you able to install the offense?) “I thought it went efficiently, I expected it to really. Some of our guys have emerged and stepped up in a quicker fashion than I expected but it did install quickly and things went pretty well for us.”

(The story of how he met his wife) “We lived in the same apartments at King Henry, there’s an apartment complex there called King Henry, we both lived there. Her sister had married one of my former roommates and so she introduced herself to me out there and then we would start seeing each other. It’s more like we became friends and I’d hang out in her apartment, go somewhere and if she was still up I’d go hang out in her apartment. And of course you’d go there and they’d be watching MASH or something like that and I’d change the channel to watch Gunsmoke. Can you imagine watching MASH or even Saturday Night Live when Gunsmoke’s on? It’s almost sacrilegious to anything American and I tried to get them back on track, which I think I did successfully. Sharon was a bit of a tough case so I had to marry her where I could keep an eye on her a lot more frequently.”

(On going back to BYU when his daughter attended) “The campus was quite similar to when I went to school there, as a matter of fact my daughter lived at King Henry part of the time. In both cases we stayed in … the dorms, so we stayed in the dorms and in between she lived different palces than we had and she lived in King Henry also. The thing that distinguishes that apartment complex is it’s got this big lawn out there so there’s all kinds of activity going on. But yeah, she lived there for a while and then I can’t remember the first part of your question but anyways it was a good deal.”

(On the offensive line) “Well I think of all the groups on our team I think that’s the one that’s improved the most. I think it’s also the area where we had the most room to grow. We’ve got a lot of really young guys, kind of young unsung guys that I didn’t know that we necessarily would be talking about that are in the mix. They’re right in the thick of it. Some were guys you would expect but relataively young guys that are going to figure in. You have the ones that come to mind, you’ve got (Elliott) Bosch at center, that started in spring and he did a good job there. (Jake) Rodgers at guard who’s doing some good things. (Zach) Brevick will probably figure in and then (Gunnar) Eklund is a fairly steady backup for us and playing quite a bit. So guys that maybe weren’t on scholarship, maybe were a little unknown have emerged and they figure in our equation as far as offensive line.”

(Why did you hire Clay McGuire?) “Well he knew what I was after offensively, he was a real smart guy, he played for me all those years and then also had coached for me. One year he was thrust into the position of being the special teams coordinator even though he was just a GA, and did a tremendous job so he had the ability to choreograph a lot of moving parts, and then had coached running backs for us off and on so he had a pretty good sense of what we do protection-wise and run-game wise. I always thought he was more naturally suited to the offensive line just the way he was able to keep track of a lot of things at once. The way that he’s real level headed under fire, somebody throws something unique at you, that he’s able to adjust quickly and think through the problems quickly.

“On this staff, the one benefit of being out is when I came back I kind of got the pick of the litter. I got to select kind of the guys I worked with, kind of the best and the brightest providing they weren’t head coaches at this point.”

(On BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall) “Bronco’s a good guy, I’ve known him over the years. I don’t know him real well but I’ve met him several times like you mentioned in the coaching gatherings and conventions and things, used to meet him down there at the Fiesta Bowl deal. Good guy, we also know quite a few people in common. Probably one of the more interesting things about Bronco is that he’s a really good surfer, and so getting some points of view from him on that subject is interesting. I’ve seen all his football stuff, we’ve watched 13 games worth to the point where we’re really not interested in seeing blue Cougars, we’re only interested in seeing red Cougars. Bronco’s an interesting guy and does a lot of interesting things, I’d be more interested in talking to him about surfing than football at this point.”

(How many freshmen will play?) “Quite a few. I think by some accounts, an alarming number. But I think that they’ve done well. Our case we don’t have some automatic redshirt policy. If you figure in the two-deep, we don’t redshirt you, we’re going to get you out there on the field. But I’d have to think it through. I was scolded the other night for not having a depth chart so I’m going to get right on that today and in doing that I’ll look at their classifications and count them up and we’ll have an answer for you as quickly as possible.

(On returning to the sidelines) “I’m looking forward to it. The one thing on this, you get to practice a lot just like the players do. When you’re out there as a coach you’re practicing all the time, so I’m anxious about the first game too. By that I I mean I stand in the relative position I’m going to be on the sideline, in other words you get the teaching done in the meetings, so when I call the plays for team or pass skel or anything, I stand on the sideline rather than right in the huddle so we signal it in, so me and the players are isolated from each other just like it’s going to be in the game so we have to communicate either non-verbally or shouting to the extent you would maybe have to in a game for everybody to hear. So that we just develop the skill of, yeah, here’s what we want to run, here’s what we want to execute, I’m over here, you’re out there on your own, communicate with each other and execute it. So we kind of practice that and also it allows me to practice seeing the field, 'hey did I like that play, this guy didn’t do this or we didn’t have good leverage on that,' so I should have called something else. As coaches we’re out there practicing ourselves so it doesn’t have that quality to me of, 'oh wow this is the first time I’ve coached since.' I realize  it’s the first game but I’ve been at it for several months now as far as kind of a sense of it.”

Christian Caple can be reached at christianc@spokesman.com. Twitter: @ChristianCaple


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