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Even Cougs not told who’ll start

<!-- WSU logo, Cougs logo, Cougars logo for use with homepageleadpromo spots --> (The Spokesman-Review)
(The Spokesman-Review)

PULLMAN – As the public waited to find out who Washington State’s starting quarterback would be on Friday against UNLV, so too did Connor Halliday.

But he had a pretty good idea.

“I was never told I (was) starting,” Halliday said Monday. “I just took all the reps with the first team offense and Jeff (Tuel) didn’t practice all week, so it was just kind of obvious.

“We’re not told much either. We’re kind of in the same boat. We just go along and try to have as good a week of practice as you can have to help the decision in your favor.”

It might be a tougher decision this week. Tuel is still wearing a brace on his injured right knee, but split reps with Halliday during the scout work session of Sunday night’s brief practice.

The Cougars took Monday off and will return to the practice field today at 3:30 p.m.

Halliday said he isn’t sure if his 378-yard, four-touchdown, two-interception performance in WSU’s 35-27 win over UNLV will increase competition for the starting job.

“I just think if I get a chance, I’m going to do everything I can to be successful and if my role needs to be on the sideline cheering on Jeff that’s what I’ll do,” Halliday said. “If it needs to be out there playing, that’s what I’ll do as well.”

Asked if he still considers himself the backup quarterback, Halliday said: “I don’t know. We’ll see what happens this week.”


Leach opposed to injury report

WSU coach Mike Leach’s policy of not discussing injuries has been more than well-documented.

But according to an report, Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott says he is considering engaging in conversation about a conference-wide injury report, perhaps similar to that of the NFL.

Some coaches, such as USC’s Lane Kiffin and Steve Sarkisian of Washington, have enforced strict policies intended to prohibit media from writing about injuries. Sarkisian termed disclosure of injuries “a competitive disadvantage,” but told reporters Monday that he’d be in favor of a conference-wide policy requiring all coaches to disclose the same kind of information.

Leach? Not so much.

“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-[12] could get that law overturned,” said Leach, referring to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, part of which prohibits certain entities from disclosing medical information. “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.”


O-line improving

The red turf-burn on Halliday’s forehead was the only evidence he’d taken any hits on Friday.

On the first play from scrimmage, he scrambled and took a late hit to the helmet area, causing his headgear to depart and his head to skid across the ground, leaving a nasty mark but no worrisome damage.

The offensive line protected him just fine, otherwise.

“I think it was our best game this year, but as a unit I don’t think we’ve played a complete game together,” center Elliott Bosch said. “We’ve had some individuals do well but we still need to find that game.

“I think it’s just an issue of finishing. We kind of get in a little bit of a hurry. We don’t stay relaxed and confident. If we do that we can fix that. I don’t think it’s an issue of conditioning or anything like that.”

Leach praised the play of redshirt freshman Gunnar Eklund, who made his first career start at left tackle in place of Dan Spitz, who hasn’t practiced the past week and didn’t make the trip to Las Vegas due to what Leach termed “personal issues.”

Leach said he expects Spitz will return to practice this week, and that the Cougars will “anxiously await his arrival.”


White is all right

As if making his first start of the season wasn’t enough to get Halliday going on Friday, he had some extra motivation in the form of his team’s wardrobe.

“I was excited because we were wearing all-white,” Halliday said. “That’s my favorite uniform combination, so I was kind of juiced up about that.”

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