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Mondays with Mike Leach

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — Mike Leach spoke with reporters for about 17 minutes today on a wide range of subjects, including his thoughts on a potential Pac-12-mandated injury report, and his favorite pirates. You'll have to look elsewhere for the pirate stuff, but we have the rest of Leach's media session below.


(On Connor Halliday's performance against UNLV) “I thought he played well. Way ahead of schedule for a guy who’s only played a handful of games because he doesn’t have many snaps under his belt, thought he played really well when you consider that. I think he’s talented. As far as explosive, going down field, really good at that. Just some things we could have done consistency wise to move the sticks, but I mean, he’s obviously going to pick it up, he’s obviously going to do a real good job with it, you know. Other people too. I did it for two years but in the media profession you’re trying to find quick, succinct answers so you can generate a theme around a specific item and all the rest, and football doesn’t really lend itself to that generally because the performance of the o-line relates to the performance of the quarterback relates to the performance of the receivers and so it goes. I think our o-line’s getting a little better which I think helped. Had a couple receivers make some big plays which I thought was good. I thought we shouldn’t have had any three and outs, which continues to be a problem. I thought that the whole consistency, we were really good at going down field but then there’s intermediate stuff and stuff underneath when downfield’s not perfect that we need to utilize and get into. And also as coaches get his focus and his attention directed there. We flew around good, a little out of control so some of the stuff we’re kind of a step too aggressive whether you over extend and you hold somebody or you get there a step late and you hold somebody or you have bad technique when you hit ‘em.”

(On the receivers) “Gabe, real well. I think Marquess could play better. I think the steadiest guy we’ve had at receiver has been Isiah Myers.”

(On Wilson's drops) “I think obviously he can catch, everybody knows he can catch. They weren’t difficult ones. Occasionally guys drop balls. So he’ll definitely catch them.”

(On Gunnar Eklund's game) “Played real well. I think one of the reasons he did play well was because he didn’t allow his mind to be cluttered. He wasn’t pumped full of do this, do that, do the other thing. He did a good job just doing his job, focusing on his job and — I feel like coach McGuire could tell you better — of our team he probably had the second best performance out there which is impressive when you consider he doesn’t have a lot of snaps and went out there and played pretty good.”

(Who had the best?) “I think (Elliott) Bosch did. McGuire could tell you more specifically. I thought overall they did some decent things but the two that stick in my head are Bosch and Eklund and of course Eklund drew a certain amount of attention because first time out there. I’m sure he had a little anxiety and as coaches we were curious how it was going to go — is he going to go out there and make it look like he does in practice? — and he did.”

(More on team playing together) “Like I say, we’re explosive but we’re not consistent. We’re more consistent than we were several weeks ago. We’re explosive. I would apply that to defense too. Defense, we walk away from each game and there will be like seven plays, and if you eliminate seven plays you knock off half or two thirds of their offense. Well, which means that you’re doing pretty good other than seven plays. We have to have the ability to get those seven plays and I think offensively there’s a certain amount of that too, but it’s more subtle. On offense everybody remembers there was this big pass, this deep one. The seven on offense tend to be playing with good technique on certain snaps so we don’t get penalties or not even necessarily a third down deal but just something routine, OK, here’s this guy underneath, this is your second read, he’s right here, throw it to him. That type of thing. It does a couple things. It keeps the defense coming and going and having to account for the entire field, the other thing there’s just a consistency to it that keeps the sticks moving and that’s kind of what’s most debilitating. One of the things that I’ve been involved with in the past that I probably take as much pride in as anything is leading the nation in first downs.Well, right now we’re not doing that. You want to control something offensively, lead in first downs. It breaks down to a point, well that last game was a little like that. If you scored in short drives and big plays, you’re not going to give the points back. The opposing team would be happy to let you give the points back. We don’t have that consistency right now. We keep the ball, they don’t get it back and we move the sticks.”

(On Bobby Ratliff at tight end) “He’s kind of a big body, he’s a good blocker. He’s been pretty versatile about doing some things. I see him as having a bigger role as time goes on. Body type wise, he’s quick enough to do one and big enough to do the other.”

(On Deone Bucannon's hit and whether he thinks he'll hear from Pac-12) “I don’t think he should. He wasn’t late, he was high. But I do think he was too high and I think it was bad technique.”

(On quarterback situation) “You’re going to have to stay tuned and watch very closely and the anticipation is killing everybody, including me, but yeah, we’re going to have a good week of practice and see where that all ends up.”

(What they need to work on) “Biggest thing is just improvement. We need to go out there and improve and get better, move the team and stuff like that. I think on an individual level I’ve been impressed with us on an individual level — just everybody kind of blending together as a team, that’s kind of what we battle a little bit. I think some of it is as coaches we’ve got to get them matured quicker. We’re a young group if you look at that roster and how many freshmen we’ve got playing, how many redshirt freshmen and sophomores, there’s quite a few. The thing is they’re talented guys, we’re excited about their progress, they’re improving every day. Somebody in here asked about Gabe Marks, I think he’s doing a pretty good job but that guy, if anybody asked him he went to the prom last year.”

(On the secondary) “I think we’re inconsistent. I think we have too many guys rotating, I think it’s almost like they’re playing keepaway a little bit as far as dominating the position. I think they need to dominate the position. Sometimes those secondary kids, if they believe they were half as good as they are they’d be really good. I think they need to be a little more confident out there and have a little more burning desire to seize the position. I think you’ve got to understand that occasionally you’re going to get beat, but have the presence, the arrogance, the charisma to say hey, I’m the guy  to go in there and fix it. I got beat the last play but I’ the guy that should be out there this play. I think we need a little of that presence out there out of those guys and the ones that jump on board and hold onto it and don’t turn it loose, they’re the ones we’d like to keep out there and let them play the whole time. But I think they’ve got to quit being so timid. They’re obviously better than they give themselves credit for and when they get out there and they get the chance to play, there’s a little too much turning it down and about as fast as they turn it down they complain they’re not out there. Well, have the toughness to get the job and hang onto it.”

(On the potential of a Pac-12-mandated injury report) “I would still refuse. I would still be very elusive on it. It would also violate the HIPAA law which would be interesting to me if the Pac-10 (12) could get that law overturned. No, it’s nobody’s business and plus, obviously if some kid doesn’t want you to know, why should you? I still wouldn’t tell.”

(On Dan Spitz) “I think he will practice this week. He’s got some personal issues he’s tending to and we anxiously await his arrival whenever he gets everything worked out.”

(On Colorado) “Fast group, talented, physical. They’ve got all these recruiting classes stacked up that everybody read about. Those are accurate. Tall guys, long arms, fast, physical and right now not playing together as well as they could. They’ve got a lot of young guys out there too. They’re out there playing with a bunch of young guys. With regard to our team I think we’re similar teams from the standpoint we don’t quite have a tent over our circus right now. They definitely have some resources. I do think they’re going to emerge and explode at some point because they are very talented. Right now they’re working to play together. I think you’ve got a bunch of strangers that haven’t been side by side and not everybody knows their role so they’re battling that a little bit.”

(Sarcastic remark about Jeff Tuel's health) “He’s ridiculously healthy. He’s one of those guys that Tony the Tiger would be proud of to be in a commercial and have him eat cereal and everything, you know what I mean? Because I do think he’d represent the whole thing well.”

(On Rickey Galvin leaving Friday's game) “Certainly does some good things and we’ve got a variety of other players and Galvin’s doing a tremendous job for us.”


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