Washington State head coach Mike Leach fielded a heap of Eastern Washington-related questions from reporters Monday, five days before the Cougars’ nonconference tilt with the Eagles in Pullman.
EWU (2-0), which upset WSU 45-42 in 2016 when Gage Gubrud accounted for 551 total yards and six touchdowns in his first collegiate start, ranks first in the FCS in yards per game (623.5)
WSU (2-0) ranks second in yards allowed (175.5) among FBS teams and eighth in passing offense (369.5 ypg).
Leach on this year’s EWU team, ranked fifth and sixth in this week’s FCS media and coaches polls
They’re a confident team. They’ve had success for a long time. They have some talented players. They’ve always had talented players. They’re a good football team. They have a good coach and good tradition, and put a pretty good product out on the field.
Will Gage Gubrud present WSU’s defense its biggest challenge yet this season?
I don’t know. We’ll see. He’s a good player. He has a lot of experience, too.
What’s it like facing a FCS team when you’re expected to win, but it’s a big deal if you lose?
It’s an opportunity to get better. Eastern provides the adversity for us (to get better), but we need to focus on ourselves. Eastern is a good team we have a lot respect for, but we can only control ourselves.
On EWU’s 45-42 upset win in Pullman in 2016
I don’t think about it very much because I have a lot of next-game sense. I pretty much focused on this one. I don’t even think about the San Jose State game last week. You have to move forward if you’re really going to be any good, so if I thought of every past game that’s all I would be doing. So no, I don’t think about (the loss to EWU) very much.
Did you draw anything from that loss to EWU?
Like what? If you have something clever, I’ll listen to you. But no, not really.
Is EWU any different now under a new head coach (Aaron Best) and offensive coordinator (Bodie Reeder)?
Maybe a little. Not a lot, though, really. They kind of hung with what they’ve been good at for years. They mix it up pretty well. They’re predominately a passing team. Their QB is pretty mobile this year. I don’t really have him as fast, but he can get out of trouble. They always have a few good players, guys that are going to get drafted. They either got there and developed or bounced back there. I think their first level is as talented as ours. I don’t know if they have as many bodies as we do, but their first level is as talented as we are. So we’re going to have to go out there and play well.”
On facing a EWU team with experience, 28 seniors
Senior-laden teams are tough. Wyoming had a bunch of seniors from top to bottom. They’re experienced and focused. Many take a step up because it’s their last year.”
On Gubrud’s development since facing WSU in 2016
I thought he was pretty good then, and he’s very similar, maybe a less reckless player. He’s a pretty good player and a statue-esque guy who can throw it down the field. He moves better than a lot QBs. I don’t have him as a runner, but he moves better than some.
Have you ever checked out the red turf at Roos Field?
I’ve seen it on film and I’ve been by the field one time. I’ve never heard the story on why they do that. From a practice standout, I am glad I don’t have to watch practice on red turf everyday. Why do they have the red turf, does anyone know?