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Jeff Tuel putting BYU behind him

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — OK, so they weren't terrible numbers.

Jeff Tuel did complete 30 of 45 passes for an acceptable completion percentage of 66.7. That's not awful. But it wasn't great that he didn't throw any touchdowns, threw two interceptions and seemed to hold onto the ball too long.

That's what Thursday's loss to Brigham Young looked like to anyone who saw it. And it looked the same on film.

“I need to play better and get through my reads quicker and really disperse the ball,” Tuel said Monday. “And when guys aren’t open, I need to find my backs and just put the ball in play really, that’s the biggest thing.”

He didn't do that so well on Thursday, though part of the issue also stemmed from a lack of pass protection at times.

Tuel was asked if he wishes he'd pulled  the ball down and run on a couple of plays when receivers weren't open. He said that, yes, there were certainly times when that would have been the right thing to do.

“I was maybe just a little too passive in the game, and maybe at times trying to be someone I wasn’t,” Tuel said. “I've made plays with my legs my whole career here, and I need to continue to do that and give the defense problems with it. There were definitely opportunities for me to take off and run that I should have taken advantage of.”

Is that OK with coach Mike Leach?

“Coach Leach always says he’d rather watch one of the running backs or the receivers run with it than me,” Tuelsaid. “But I can’t let that affect my play, and if I see something, I need to go ahead and take it and just get the yards there. We’re learning each other and that’s what this is all about. Just continue to grow.”

Moving past the BYU loss won't be an issue, Tuel said.

“If you guys are expecting us to sit around and mope for the whole week, you’re wrong,” Tuel said. “Because that’s not what’s going to happen here anymore. Those times are over.”

More from Tuel …


(On if adjusting to the offense played a factor) “I think so. I’m not going to sit up here and make excuses but when guys are covered up the field you need to hit your checkdowns and that’s something I need to continue to get better at and know where those guys are at in this offense.”

(On poor body language) “Certainly I think if you watched the game on ESPN or whatever, you’ll see guys’ body language pretty bad and some guys are better at it than others but we definitely had more than our share of guys with long faces on the sidelines, kind of like “oh crap” or whatever, but that’s something that coach Leach is definitely aiming to fix and improve in a hurry, without a doubt.”

(On if that improves with winning) “I think so in some ways. We’re a young team. It’s easy if you get in a hole to get upset and get your body language down and throw in the towel in some ways, but as coach Leach has told us, 'if you think that all the games that I’ve won, we were never behind, you’re crazy.' Things don’t go your way every single down. That’s just how football is. Things don’t go your way every single game. We’re going through the first week. We’re 0-1. It’s not the end of the world. We’re going to come back next week and we’re going to play our tails off.”

(On Eastern Washington) “They’re a good team. You see them on film, they play hard, they run around, they’re fast, you don’t go into any football game kind of thinking it’s in the bag. It’s the worst thing you can do. They’re definitely a respectable team and you can’t overlook these guys. They’re a good football team.”

(More on adjusting to new offense) “Just playing really. It’s just getting a few games under your belt. I haven’t played a game like that in a while and I maybe tried to play it a little too cool and just be too relaxed, and I need to let myself out more and let some of my passion for the game out and do a better job leading and being vocal for my guys on the sideline to make sure that guys don’t hang their heads and get down. It’s going to be a big growth week for me, as well, this upcoming game, and I expect a different game this Saturday.”

(Was BYU's defense a big factor?) “BYU’s a good defense. They played us really well. Mature team, really fundamentally sound. We shot ourselves in the foot a bunch whether it was interceptions or holding calls. We just really shot ourselves in the foot and you can just make excuses for holding and interceptions and whatnot, but that’s not going to get us anywhere and the bottom line is, we had a chance to put it in the end zone and we didn’t. It’s a combination of both us and I think BYU. I tip my cap to their defense as well.”

(On watching EWU film) “We watched quite a bit. Like I said, they just fly around, really high energy, play with passion, as coach Leach put it, this is how we want to play. This is how we should have played Thursday. They’re flying around having a good time, energetic, and they’re definitely not a team to look past because they play hard.”

(Were you rusty on Thursday?) “I don’t really know. You can call it whatever you want to call it. I didn’t play my best and I can play better and wasn’t myself. Call it whatever you want to call it. (Whether) I had a bad game, I’m rusty. Different people will call it different things. That’s kind of behind me.”

(On moving past a rough couple of seasons) “In a way I guess, but for me personally I’ll never forget kind of what we’ve been through and what we’ve gone through in the downs and hard times, because that just makes it that much better when you get there and get those wins. In a sense it is a clean slate but at the same time you don’t forget about those times. You kind of keep that in the back of your mind when you play those guys and makes it that much better and is a little bit of a fuel.”

(Bright spots from Thursday?) “I think the defense did a heck of a job. I think they played great especially in the second half, they played great in the second half and gave us a chance to win. … Offensively we moved the ball, we really did, we just shot ourselves in the foot, get to the red zone and blow it somehow. It’s not like it was catastrophic and we weren’t able to move the ball. We were able to do those things, we just need to do more of them and build on that.”

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


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