FROM PULLMAN — We have our usual notes and quotes from WSU's practice Wednesday night, but first, we'll address the latest in the Marquess Wilson situation. Read on.
Moos gave radio interviews on both KJR and KIRO in Seattle today, with a few interesting revelations coming from each. I listened to the KJR interview live, so I'll pass along some notes from that one, which you can listen to here. … The most interesting nugget is that Moos said he has met with Wilson, and plans to meet with him again next week. After that, Moos said, “well see where it will go from there.” Moos said he gave Wilson some tough love, telling him that hard work and effort will get him where he wants to be. He also advised him to stay in school — which Moos thinks he will — and stay in shape. He advised him to watch Saturday's game, and note how “hollow” it makes him feel inside. And Moos said he told Wilson he should be “encouraged” that WSU has termed his situation a suspension instead of a dismissal. Also, Moos said he'll “go to bat” for Wilson if he wants him to, but that obviously the final decision lies in Leach's hands. … Reading between the lines, I don't think it would be inaccurate to believe Wilson's career at WSU might not be over yet. As Moos said, it's Leach's call. Everyone knows that. But I can't see Moos putting this much energy into something that he feels is a lost cause. Leach, predictably, had no further comment on the matter after practice, though he did say that “Bill's a guy that anybody could use a little advice from.”
On to practice … Isiah Myers participated in a limited role again, leaving with strength coaches about 20 minutes into practice before returning later and standing on the sidelines. … Teondray Caldwell looks like he's back at full participation, though running backs coach Jim Mastro said afterward that he's not sure Caldwell can jump right back into the role he was in before suffering a concussion. Still, Caldwell is expected to get some plays this week. … Gunnar Eklund's hand injury kept him out again, and appears as if it will for the foreseeable future. … With a limited group of outside receivers to choose from, walk-on Drew Loftus, a spring standout, saw some time with the No. 1 offense during scout-team session. He caught a long touchdown pass from Jeff Tuel, too. … David Bucannon had two interceptions during scout work, one off Tuel, one off Connor Halliday. … Practice concluded with a brief, 7-on-7 competition with offensive players playing defense, and defensive players playing offense. Tana Pritchard was the quarterback. He didn't complete any passes, and the drill ended when Dominique Williams intercepted a pass into the end zone intended for Matthew Bock. So the defense had to do up-downs. … By the way, if you're wondering if Mike Leach is going to change his marijuana policy in light of Tuesday's I-502 results, think again. Leach said he's not changing anything.
After practice, we spoke with running backs coach Jim Mastro about his time at UCLA, as well as WSU's running game. Here's some of what he had to say.
(What's clicked for UCLA this year, from what you've seen?) “First of all the quarterback is huge. He couldn’t play last year. Second of all he hired a great staff there, some really good coaches. He came in with a plan in place. They’re executing that plan and you’re seeing the results. It doesn’t surprise me with the talent they’ve got. The quarterback’s the one thing and they hired really good coaches on offense there. I don’t know about defense too but offensively they’ve got really good coaches, he has a plan, he’s sticking to his plan and you’re seeing the results of it.”
(Which coaches in particular?) “All of them — Adrian (Klemm), Yarbs (Eric Yarber), keeping Marques Tuiasosopo — those are three really good coaches too. Noel (Mazzone) does a great job with the offense. To me the quarterback and then the coaches they’ve got on offense are the difference.”
(Did you want to play Brett Hundley last season?) “We couldn’t because he tore his MCL in the summer and basically was ready week five, and you can’t do it then. You can’t burn his redshirt after that. But if he could have not torn his MCL in the summertime, he probably would have been our starting quarterback last year and Rick (Neuheisel) would probably still be there. But everything works out for the best.”
(Do you look back on that and wonder, what if?) “We deserved (being fired). It was deserved. They needed to make a change there, just culture change. Jim came in and did a nice job of changing the culture there. Those kids are playing hard, they’re playing fast, they’re playing tough. I still visit with some of those guys and he did a hell of a job putting a staff together and that to me is huge in this business. He did a hell of a job putting a staff together down there and he had a plan and he followed that plan and you’re seeing the results.”
(What was wrong with the culture?) “I was only there seven months. Just from my observation coming from Nevada where it’s a structured, discipline, hard-nosed approach, I just didn’t see that there (UCLA). I don’t know what it had been in the past but that’s what it missed. It just missed that blue-collar atmosphere. You could see Jim has brought that there. They’re blue collar now. They’re playing hard, they’re playing fast. All the things you tried to get them to do last year, you’re seeing it now. When you win, it obviously helps. Again that coaching staff he has is really good, and he does a hell of a job of putting a plan together and you can see he sticks to his plan. You’re seeing the results of it right now. They’re really good.”
(You've said you want to run more, but you've also said Leach wants to get the passing game going first) “Mike’s whole deal is that, to get where we want to be in the future, that’s got to time out. And then that’s the first thing we’re going to work on, even if we take our lumps, which we know we’re going to, that’s got to come first and until Mike feels he’s comfortable with where that’s at, that’s going to be the priority. And I don’t blame him for that because as we go through this thing and everything starts to fall into place, that’s going to be the key to it. We are getting better, but it just takes time.”
(Is running more in the plans?) “It’s always in the plans but when they’re giving us certain stuff and leverages and things like that, the way this offense is based if they give you a leverage you throw it no matter what. That’s what it’s based on and that’s what he’s been good at all these years and it’s not going to change.”