PULLMAN – It was supposed to be a badge of honor to play on Washington State’s offensive line this season. Some pundits have considered the group the best in the Pac-12 Conference and one Bleacher Report scribe went so far to the peg the unit as the most talented in college football.
But according to the Mike Leach scale, the offensive line wouldn’t even qualify as the best position group on this Cougars team, and right now it wouldn’t be such a stretch to call it the worst.
“Some of those cats may be reading all the nicey nice things you say about them,” Leach said Monday afternoon during his weekly press conference. “Our O-line saunters around like they accomplished something. They haven’t accomplished anything at this point.”
Leach had 30 minutes on the podium Monday and used much of the allotted time chewing out the big guys up front for their lackluster play in a triple-overtime win over Boise State.
After the game, the coach started to chide the O-linemen, telling reporters, “I hope they’re not listening to their press clippings. I may never say anything nice about them again.”
It certainly wouldn’t be wise to crack open the newspaper this week.
The Cougars found a way to beat the Broncos 47-44 in a game that ended just shy of midnight, but the battle up front – between WSU’s offensive line and BSU’s defensive line – was a lopsided one, with the Broncos winning nine times out of 10.
“OK, so like if you were ever in a fight … so pick whoever you think our best offensive lineman is,” Leach started. “OK, if there was a fight to the death and you were to clean out this room and there were no rules whatsoever to be applied. So you pick out whoever happens to be your favorite of our offensive lineman. Whoever you think is the toughest. Now whoever’s the softest of that Boise State D-line, you bring him in here. And all that’s going to be left of our offensive lineman is a grease spot at the end.
“Because that Boise State defensive lineman would smoke our offensive lineman so bad, it’ll be embarrassing.”
On Saturday, the Broncos recorded five sacks on the WSU quarterbacks – two on Luke Falk and three on Tyler Hilinski – and the Cougars were especially sluggish in the run game. WSU’s three tailbacks ran 19 times for just 54 yards and the leading rusher, James Williams, averaged only 2.2 yards per carry.
Leach was critical of the running backs, too, but rarely did they get the push they needed to reach the second level, and that’s on the O-line.
“They just don’t mind getting their ass kicked,” Leach said. “And it appears to kind of appeal to them. Hopefully they’re only doing it on an experimental basis and it’s a stage or a phase they’ll come out of.”