Leach talks Stanford, other things
FROM PULLMAN — Mike Leach spoke with reporters for about 20 minutes today, using much of that time to preview this week's game against Stanford. Read on for a transcript.
(Biggest game of the season?) "They’re all big. They’re the only team we play this week so we’re excited to play them."
(How did you match up physicall with Stanford last year?) "They’re really strong. I thought they were stronger. The biggest thing you notice about Stanford is their size and strength."
(Playing at CenturyLink) "It was loud. NFL, from what I read and hear, has made an effort to make louder stadiums. I think Seattle is the loudest one. Typically NFL stadiums aren’t as loud as major college stadiums, but it was loud. When we played Oregon there it was loud."
(Would you prefer to play here or there?) "Always Martin, just because it’s our house. But CenturyLink’s great and it’s a good changeup and it’s exciting. We do it once a year, it’s an exciting place to go and we get the opportunity to play Stanford there, so it’s a heck of a deal."
(Do you think the gap has closed, strength-wise, between you and Stanford?) "I think we’re stronger than we were last year. We’re a little bigger than we were last year. We still need to get bigger and stronger. One of the big things is we’re playing together better, so we’ve got to maintain that."
(Is this kind of team a good matchup defensively?) "I don’t know. Our front seven are pretty solid and then we do some good things in the secondary too. And they keep getting better. They keep showing a little more dimension each time they play."
(Stanford last year vs. this year) "I think very similar. I think nearly identical."
(On preserving shutout against Idaho) "There hadn’t been a shutout in a long time, and nothing’s more important to a defense than a shutout. That’s kind of a major goal and that’s what you take a lot of pride in. I thought our defense had played really well, I thought they’d played hard. They gave up a couple of explosives but other than that I thought they played good. Wanted ‘em to get a shutout. It was good to see them rise up because Idaho had that great big back and really moved the ball down the field well that drive. I was proud of our guys for rising up and stopping them."
(Have you talked to Paul Petrino since?) "No."
(Is it true he's building a house next to yours?) "Already lives there."
(You ever see him around?) "I haven’t. I don’t know him. A lot of guys in the business I know, but I don’t really know him."
(On Isiah Myers playing both outside receiver positions) "It’s worked out fine, he plays both sides, he’s got enough utility in him he’s got the ability to play both sides, so he’s been bouncing back and forth between the two. And knock on wood, we’ve been pretty healthy. He’s stepped to either side. Dom’s (Williams) played real well and the two Zs play real well, but he’s in the mix and if someone were to go down on either side he’s the first to go in. He goes in anyway because he’s a good solid player."
(On postgame exchange with Petrino) "I have no idea what he’s upset about. I don’t care. And if I did know, which I don’t, I wouldn’t share it with you. Next question."
(On challenge of preparing for a new week) "I think it always is. I think it’s a challenge for players, coaches, everybody. I think it’s a challenge for everybody. That’s kind of why I think routine’s important. You have your routine and you kind of execute your routine and maintain your focus on your routine. I think it’s challenging for everybody. Football’s plenty demanding and it’s challenging for everybody, but you’ve got the opportunity to win one game a week and your focus needs to be on that, and you need to steadily improve and get better at it. And I think that as a team we’ve done that. Our team’s been very responsive that way. But this game, we’ve got to get a week better. We look at it, if you don’t get a week better you’re falling behind. I think we’ve gotten better every week up to this point. We’ve got to get a week better this week."
"If you get too anxious you hurt yourself. You need to worry about being the best team you can be. You don’t have a lot of control over the other guy. You worry about being the best team you can be, worry about executing the best plays you can execute, you worry about having the best technique you can have, worry about having the best preparation you can and keep going out and making plays. You shouldn’t allow the opponent to be a distraction or sidetrack your effort from being the best team you can be."
"We’re approaching it as the next game, you can win one game a week if you prepare well and play the best you can. you can win one game a week, they’re the next game, so we’re focused on them and want to do that. We have a lot of respect for them and their players but we’re really not concerned about that. We’re concerned about being the best team we can be and playing the best game we can play, and it all starts with our preparation this week."
(Where did you envision Jeremiah Laufasa fitting in when he came here?) "Wasn’t sure. He was real thick last year. He was a heavier guy last year. He was thicker and stiffer last year and he’s always been a weight room guy, great in the weight room. I think he’s every bit as strong but he’s lost some weight and he’s quicker. He just brings a lot of power when he runs the ball. He’s more elusive than you’d think. And I think he’s really developed into a player. There’s not hardly anybody that within one year has improved any more than Laufasa, and he catches the ball well, too."
(What allowed for that improvement?) "He works really hard. The biggest thing, he’s just gotten quicker and more flexible. I think he worked differently. Before that he was probably lifting bulk too much and things like that. … He was a little more thick and cumbersome, now he’s quick and moves well and is still powerful."
(On Leon Brooks at H receiver) "Thought he did good. Thought he’s getting better all the time. We’re trying to get him on the field. Played some at H and he’s looked good there. Doesn’t fully know the position, but will by the end of this week."
(Do you believe in momentum?) "There’s definitely momentum. Any time a group draws from energy and excitement, there’s momentum. But in the end, it’s just kind of a decision. You decide all right, we’re excited, we’re going to work together, we’re going to play together. To me, all momentum is, is a decision – everybody deciding together they’re excited to play, they’re going to play hard and they’re going to play together. A lot of times some event will spark the momentum, like 'oh, we made a play, so now we’re all excited, so now we’re all going to play together and work together. We’re excited.' So it takes off. I think there’s an element of that for our team the last three games."
(On freshman QBs in the Pac-12) "I think that’s random. I don’t think it’s easier. I think they do come to college better prepared with the passing leagues and all that going on, and more teams throwing the ball. I think they come to college better prepared. I don’t think it’s easy. I think it’s really more random and some of the randomness has to do with for the most part it’s new coaching staffs they’re involved with. I think it’s hard. To do it as a freshman is difficult, so I think they deserve a lot of credit for doing it successfully, and I think in some cases it’s because they’re new staffs and it’s not what somebody’s 100 percent after. At the end of the day you’d rather have somebody you’ve spent a certain amount of time training."
(Does that apply specifically to your system?) "I think everybody. I don’t think it matters which system. If he pitches the ball every play, he’s deciding this guy’s going to get it at this particular time and the more he polishes his skills on that, the better he’s going to be. Then of course offseason, weight room figures into that. I think all of them with successful freshmen are really excited thinking about what they’re going to be like as juniors and seniors."
(On Stanford) "I think they’re one of the top programs in the country. I think our conference is full of them. From one week to the next, we’re full of great teams in this conference, so you just do your best, line up and play ‘em. But that’s what makes this conference exciting, is you know you’re getting tested against the best."
(On Nolan Washington) "I think Nolan’s improved and I also think his experience is one of the things that’s helped him maintain his position, because Daquawn’s (Brown) very talented, really talented, so one of the things that holds Nolan in there is his experience."
(Stanford's strengths) "Offensive line and defensive line, no question. Not to take away from any of the others, but when I think of Stanford that’s what I think of — offensive line, defensive line and real tough running backs."