Cougar notebook: From ‘corpses’ to ‘zombie convention’
SALT LAKE CITY – The man has never been known to mince words. But coach Mike Leach has never been as publicly upset with his Washington State team as he was after Saturday’s 49-6 loss at Utah.
During a postgame radio interview, Leach referred to an earlier comment about players being “empty corpses,” saying that Saturday’s lack of effort made his team look like “a zombie convention.”
Then he got critical. Asked how WSU could have played so dramatically worse than in last week’s near-win against Stanford, Leach replied: “I don’t know if somehow they think there’s some level of accomplishment in that, which there’s not because we still lost last week, last time I checked, and there’s plenty of ways we could have played better last week. If we’re taking satisfaction out of last week we’re out of our mind. Not one play last week counts for this week. So no, right now we’re a team that doesn’t give good effort which means all the stuff we do in the weight rooms, meeting rooms, practices, we’re wasting our time if we’re not going to give good effort. We’re going to be working on effort this week.”
And: “We’ll get something figured out. I don’t know. If you figure it out give me a call. Because I can’t fathom on any level how you work at anything and then come out and just not even try. It doesn’t matter what physical condition a person’s in, how old, how young, anybody is capable of great effort. Anybody is capable of it. The fact of the matter is, today we refused to give it.”
The numbers seem to bear that out. Utah gained 453 yards of total offense to WSU’s 255, gained 24 first downs to WSU’s 14 and gained 6.6 yards per play to WSU’s 3.8. And for the second consecutive week and fourth time this season, the Cougars were held to negative rushing yards, finishing with minus-4 thanks to six Utah sacks.
Quarterback shuffle, but not really
Leach replaced quarterback Jeff Tuel with Connor Halliday for two series late in the third quarter and early in the third, but ultimately went back to Tuel after Halliday completed just 4 of 9 passes for 27 yards.
Leach said he just wanted Tuel, who threw for 232 yards, to see the field from the sidelines for a bit.
“I thought Jeff did as good as Connor did,” Leach said. “It’s hard to gauge. There are definitely some decisions I’d like over again. They’re a little tough to gauge today. When you have (three) seconds or less to throw the ball it’s kind of tough to gauge what they’re doing and what they’re not doing. Clearly it wasn’t a great effort by them. On the field they lead these guys once you get out there on the field, but by the same token, some cases it’s hard to gauge.”
Then, back to the offensive line: “The worst of it was, it wasn’t even not knowing who to block or things like that. Just refusal.”
NCAA record for Ute
Utah was still seeking confirmation after the game ended, but the school believes that Reggie Dunn’s 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown to start the second half set an NCAA record.
Dunn, who returned two kicks the same distance for touchdowns last week against California, now has four such returns in his career. That’s good for a Utah career record and likely an NCAA record, as well as a Utah single-season record.
“I knew it was going to happen, because before I went out there, I saw it in the kickoff return team’s eyes,” Dunn said. “They were ready to make it happen again.
Wilson doesn’t start, but climbs list
Marquess Wilson didn’t start for the second consecutive week, but still led WSU in receiving with five catches for 73 yards. Those numbers were good enough to move him into ninth place on the Pac-12’s all-time receiving yards list, ahead of USC’s Johnnie Morton.
Senior receiver Gino Simone, who started the last two games, did not play. … Freshman safety Feddie Davey left the game with an apparent left knee injury and was seen on crutches after the game ended. … Receiver Isiah Myers (undisclosed) and running back Teondray Caldwell (head) did not make the trip. … On the possibility of a letdown now that a bowl game is unattainable this season, sophomore Logan Mayes said: “I don’t think our coaches will allow it to happen. I think we’ll all be motivated still. We’re playing for pride now. I know that’s a cliché, but you’ve got to play for something.” … The attendance of 45,069 gave Utah its 17th consecutive sellout.