FROM PULLMAN -- Here's a partial transcript of Mike Leach's postgame comments after WSU's 31-28 overtime win over Washington in the Apple Cup. Read on.
(On the crowd reaction) "It was excellent. This is a true college town and that field was full of students and fans and just really a great atmosphere, really a great way to send out our seniors and kind of dedicated this game to our seniors and we’re proud for them and this was the best game we played all year. We played all three sides of the ball contributed. All three sides of the ball had their adversity and fought through it. The biggest thing is we hung together for 60 minutes. You’ll win a lot of games if you’re able to do that. We got better today, we grew today and we need to continue to improve on it."
(More on the team's comeback) "I’m really proud of them and kind of what we need to learn from this a little bit is some of this is easier than we’ve been making it. It’s really just hanging together and everybody doing their part, not trying to make too much happen, everybody do their job, make the routine play and just stick in there and do it for 60 minutes and don’t worry about too much until the dust clears."
(On where this ranks on his all-time wins list) "This was a big one, no question. They’re all big but this was really a big one. A lot of folks had counted us out and our guys rose up and the biggest thing that happens, teams will have problem and they’ll quit and wave the white flag, that type of thing and our guys never really did. We had some tough moments and had a lot of people get knocked out this year and fought through it. Was proud of their resiliency and stayed excited to play and capped it off with this one."
(On whether this gives players a boost going into the offseason) "I think it does all that and it’s a good thing because offseason starts on Monday, so that’s good there. The biggest thing that made it good was our crowd and the environment. They got to experience all of that. So I think that’s really good."
(Did you learn anything about the fans?) "I can’t say that I learned anything. I knew the fans were incredibly loyal fans. Always enthusiastic about the Cougs. I knew it was a big deal to beat the Huskies. I’ve been hearing about that since the day I walked through the door and I had a sense of that before I ever got here. It’s a great win, great win for our institution, great win for our fans, great win for our players. The environment, I knew it’d be exciting and it was really exciting. I was kind of amazed how quick those fans got out there on the field. Sometimes it takes them a little while."
(Did you think about going for it on 4th and 1?) "Yeah, I did. If I had I suspect we would have won in regulation but we kicked it and Furney did a heck of a job and drained the thing, so it was good."
(Why did you decide to kick the field goal?) "It’s easy now to say I did the right thing just because we won but just when you consider the value of the situation and odds and stuff like that I maybe should have gone for it. It’s real easy now to say well that was a great decision because you won. Well I don’t know. A couple things happened that if we go for it we march in and score in regulation and use up the clock. The other thing is we go for it and then end u kicking the field goal later, they have less time which helps your chances in regulation. I’m not sure of the perfect option. I had 25 seconds to make a decision and I made one. Yogi Berra says if there’s a fork in the road, take it. So I took it."
(On kicking the field goal on first down in OT) "We were centered up really nicely, and a lot of times in the past I’ve gone ahead and just punched it in but it was close, it was centered up, it was kind of in the perfect location so we kicked it."
(On Travis Long) "Travis has really been a solid piece of our foundation here. Travis has been kind of outnumbered at times with the mentality that’s needed to win and play this game. So I think he’s been a really good example and I think over the process of the season, more and more people have jumped on board with the same mentality Travis has. When you try to build something you start out with a couple and our case Travis in particular and as more and more draw from that, then pretty soon the number grows and it’s bigger and we got more people to think like that and then eventually you evolve into a tough football team instead of just one that signed up and plays. So I think he’s really been instrumental in that, converting some of the young guys, being an example to them and that type of thing."
(On Tuel's scramble and 29-yard throw to Myers) "Went back there, they’re all around him, they hit him in the head, he split them, almost went down, popped up and threw the ball and a couple weeks ago we started telling him to quit falling down because we’ve had some guys that fall down and as self-explanatory as it is, a guy falls down at practice we’ll make them do a few up-downs just to remind them, hey, don’t fall down. well, Jeff didn’t fall down even though they clubbed him over the head and he got up and did some big stuff and threw a big pass which I thought was kind of instrumental in us getting back into it. I thought he was a good player for a long time, just did some good stuff, fought through some stuff and got knocked around a little and kept battling away. I think the best thing he did was keep drives going. I thought he did a really good job running the offense. We hit a period where there was some stuff as a quarterback, it’s easy to get discouraged. We dropped some balls, interceptions would bounce off somebody’s chest, stuff like that. But he stayed in there, stayed focused, I thought really helped keep the group focused."
"If we do it over and over again we can have a bunch of other games in a row that resemble this. If you’re just a one-time guy you haven’t changed much. We’ve got to take this build on it and understand we can do it every time."
(On defensive line play) "I thought the defensive line played really good, was really explosive, made a run in the third quarter where we weren’t as consistent. The biggest thing was we got good plays. They knocked their quarterback around, did a really good job on running backs, in particular I thought they rose up in key situations. I thought our defensive line really set the tone for our defense. Offensive line I thought they really battled through. We’ve played this entire season with six offensive linemen. Two of them were walk-ons, I don’t know if any of them started last year. None of them started all of last year. As the season’s gone on, fatigue’s set in a little bit and I thought they battled through. Thought they played really tough today and battled through and did it for four quarters."