PULLMAN – For years, it’s been an unorthodox staple of the spring football routine for one of the most country’s unorthodox coaches.
Maybe the longer you think about it, the more you agree with Mike Leach’s approach and begin to question why everyone else isn’t on the same page as the Washington State coach, who will be entering his eighth year in the fall.
All around the country, college football programs are starting to put a bow on spring camp. Many that hadn’t already did so last weekend with annual intrasquad scrimmages, mock games that are used to benefit the athletes but equally designed for the enjoyment and entertainment of fans.
Players take the scrimmage seriously, but once it’s over most of them sign autographs, pose for photos and leave the field. Then, for the next three months, it’s no position meetings, no film sessions and no team-sanctioned practice until August, when fall camp opens up.
Leach doesn’t see the point in that approach, so for the umpteenth year, there the Cougars were three days after the Crimson and Gray Game going through individual drills, special teams situations and team periods one last time before breaking for the offseason.
“I actually like it because it betters us in the long run, because we get some more reps, get some more looks and see where we can go going into the summer,” outside receiver Calvin Jackson Jr. said Tuesday evening.
More than anything, it’s a way to ensure players don’t rest on their laurels after the spring game. Leach sees the value in reviewing film from the scrimmage, dissecting it with players in meeting rooms and atoning for errors a few days later.
“I do (like it) because you get to watch the film. It’s pretty simple,” outside linebackers/special teams coach Matt Brock said. “So you can watch the film with them and try to clean those things up today. And then from a special teams standpoint, I’ve always used it as a situational practice, too.”
Leach didn’t have any major issues coming away from the spring game, offering that the Cougars just have to improve their “overall execution (and) consistency.”
A review of the tape also revealed a few things that may have looked better than Leach had thought initially.
“I thought the D-line looked good. I thought we ran to the ball good,” Leach said. “I thought for the most part we caught the ball pretty good. Then I thought it was competitive. You split it up in half, you’re trading competitiveness for a certain amount of synchronization as far as consistency. But I thought it was good.”
For the first time in a padded setting this spring, Eastern Washington graduate transfer quarterback Gage Gubrud took live repetitions during WSU’s team period near the end of practice. The Cougars went through four offensive drives during the team period – two of them quarterbacked by Gubrud and the other two by Anthony Gordon and Trey Tinsley.
Gubrud, who didn’t participate in the Crimson and Gray game, went 5 of 8 on his first series and 3 of 8 on his second. Gordon went 6 of 8 with a touchdown and Tinsley was 7 of 9 with three touchdowns.
“He did good,” Jackson Jr. said of Gubrud. “Coming into this offense, it’s not complex, but if you don’t know what you’re doing, if you don’t have your helmet straight, you’ll get lost real quick. But Gage came in with his head strong, knows the plays, knows the checks and all that so I’m really proud of him.”
Leach will divide the QB reps between all three players when fall camp begins, but he plans to whittle the race down to two at some point in the first few weeks.
“At some point, we’ll rep two,” Leach said. “Really, spring was just to get everyone in a position to compete at as high a level as they could in the offseason and in camp we’ll have to split them up.”
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