FROM PULLMAN — Washington State senior quarterback Jeff Tuel was one of three Cougars players selected to speak with the media today. He answered questions for about 10 minutes.
WSU coach Mike Leach said Tuel will take the starter's reps with the No. 1 offense this week, an indication that he probably has a better chance than Connor Halliday to start against Stanford on Oct. 27.
Here are Tuel's comments, some of which are more enlightening than most we've heard this season.
(On the bye week) “I think it’s important to give yourself a day or so, a day or two off just to refresh your mind or whatever. But at the same time you’ve got to get in the film room and study your opponent and really use that extra week to prepare yourself for the opponent.”
(Any silver linings from Saturday?) “I think you learn something from every football game. I know I’ve said that throughout my whole career. Often times you lose and you learn more during a loss, but it’s just at a point right now where we’ve got to find a win and string some together. I think we grew as an offense at times and moved the ball on Cal up and down the field, just got to learn to just relax in the red zone and score.”
“No one likes losing and then trying to find a positive thing out of it. It’s just the nature of the beast and it’s the position we’re in right now. I’d much rather be up here saying hey we won, it was great, there’s a lot of positives from it, but it’s not the case. You’ve got to try to be positive from every circumstance and every outcome. That’s what we’re going to do and we’re going to move on and we’re going to have a great week of practice this week.”
(On waiting to hear about his fifth year) “Honestly, I haven’t put too much thought into it. As long as I know before the end of the season it’d be nice. I never did and never will go into the season thinking, 'Well, if I get my extra year back …' or, 'Well, I’ve got another year.' It’s not really on my mind to be honest with you. I’d like to find out before you have to declare whether you’re staying or going. But other than that I haven’t put any thought into it.”
(On his mobility) “I was fine. I felt good. I was able to run and buy time at times, and I felt good.”
(On red zone failures) “We’ve just got to relax. The way coach Leach puts it is, we tense up a little bit and 'holy cow we’re right here! We need to score! Everybody, we need to score!' and just kind of overthinking it at times. We just need to relax and come together and just make the plays we made all the way down the field to get to that point.”
(On his relationship with Halliday) “It’s great. We watch film together almost every day, every day we do. It’s honestly good. My relationship with Connor’s been great. It hasn’t gotten any worse or anything like that. Me and him have each other’s back and we’ve always had the saying all for one and one for all. Whoever it is, we’ve got each other’s back.”
(On how he would describe his team's struggles to someone who hadn't seen them play) “You have to understand that just because your coach is Mike Leach and it’s his offense doesn’t mean everything’s going to be perfect. It’s not like he can just snap his fingers and all of a sudden every single ball’s going to be complete, every single read is going to be great. It’s everyone’s first year in the system. We’re learning a lot of things. I’ve learned a tremendous amount just about how the offense clicks from week one to now. There’s a lot of reasons and I think people, including the players on this team, came into this year as, ‘oh, we’re all good. We’re going to throw for 1,000 yards a game and whatnot.’ But in reality you’ve still got to work and go through your reads and do the right things. We’re still working through those kinks a little bit now.”
(On his senior year and how it compares to what he expected) “Obviously we had high hopes and we’d like to have a better record than we do now. Obviously I would like to have stayed healthy, so just battling through it. That’s part of the game. You never know what’s going to happen. You never know what teams are going to be great, you never know what teams aren’t. This year isn’t over for us. We still have a lot of games left, so I’m not ready to give a definition on my senior year and this football team because this season’s not over and we have a lot that we can still do and improve on.”
(On team goals for the rest of the season) “Go to a bowl game, still. We can still win out. It’s not out of the question. Teams have done it before, so that’s obviously a team goal and we’re never going to give up on that goal. Individually, just do what I can to win those games. I don’t care, I’ve said since the beginning I don’t care statistically this year, it’s got to be about the wins and losses for this football team.”
(When do you start preparing for Stanford?) “Today. I was watching some film today. Like I said, you want to take advantage of this extra week and start looking at things and don’t need to really jam pack it as much just because you’ve got ttwo weeks to plan for them, just going to start chipping away at them here this week and try to build on it.
(On what they need to improve this week) “There’s not one thing I can give you that’s like, 'OK we are going to focus on' … I’ve got to be better with my reads, receivers have got to catch the ball, be more accurate, line’s got to sift through the blitzes. We’ve got to improve in all areas of the game and that’s never going to change for any football team. We’re going to keep doing that.”
(Does this season feel like the last three at all?) “Similar but no two seasons are the same. Every one’s different. It’s obviously frustrating but there’s certainly a lot of football left.”