QB starter up in air for Cougs in Apple Cup
Maybe Washington State has a post-Thanksgiving surprise in store for the Apple Cup.
Mike Leach said Sunday afternoon that he hasn’t decided yet who will start at quarterback for the Cougars against Washington on Friday after using both senior Jeff Tuel and sophomore Connor Halliday in Saturday’s 46-7 loss at Arizona State.
Tuel started. Halliday relieved him. Neither was all that impressive, continuing the up-and-down, in-and-out trend that has marked that position for WSU this season.
“They both have done some good things and both have a level of inconsistency,” Leach said. “Some of that is probably my fault.”
The two quarterbacks have relatively similar numbers. They’ve each appeared in nine games, with Halliday completing 152 of 291 passes for 1,878 yards, and Tuel completing 178 of 279 for 1,737 yards. Tuel’s higher completion percentage gives him a slightly higher efficiency rating of 121.2 to 114.5.
Tuel has also thrown only six interceptions and eight touchdowns. Halliday has thrown 13 picks along with his 15 touchdowns.
Halliday completed 13 of 33 passes on Saturday for 173 yards, a touchdown and an interception after relieving Tuel, though he was under siege from an ASU pass rush that sacked him six times.
And, Leach said, Halliday is still plagued by the inconsistency that kept him from holding onto the job when he was named the starter early in the season.
“One of his best qualities is that he tries to make a lot happen,” said Leach, who predictably continued by saying “one of his worst qualities is he tries to make a lot happen.”
No news on Choate
The website FootballScoop.com, which specializes in coaching news, reported Saturday night that WSU linebackers coach Jeff Choate was scheduled to interview for the head coaching job at Idaho on Sunday.
Leach said he had no “first-hand knowledge” of a scheduled interview, but did tout Choate’s credentials as a candidate.
“I just think he’s passionate about football, you know?” Leach said. “Good sharp coach, passionate about the game.
“Idaho’s a good opportunity for somebody. I’m sure they’ll have plenty of good candidates to pick from.”
Choate, a native of St. Maries, Idaho, drew the ire of some Vandals fans earlier this season when he said in an interview with VarsityCDA.com that Idaho would have better success if it dropped down to the FCS level.
Leach isn’t real particular about being home for the holidays, he said, because playing in 10 bowl games in 10 seasons at Texas Tech forced him to grow accustomed to being on the road around Christmas-time.
And for WSU players who aren’t able to travel home for Thanksgiving with the Apple Cup game against Washington being played on Friday, Leach said there will be a team dinner on Wednesday before WSU heads to its hotel in Lewiston on Thursday.
The rest of the student body is likely to be gone, since WSU is among the schools that take the entire week of Thanksgiving off.
“I’m excited to spend Thanksgiving with them for sure,” said junior safety Deone Bucannon. “And it’s more like a team mindset. It’s just us. It’s just us out here, the team, the coaches, and it’s cool.”
Some players have family coming to them.
“A lot of my family’s out here and they’ll be here for the whole week,” said senior Carl Winston, who will play in his final game as a Coug.