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Thursday, September 19, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Mike Leach discusses starting QB, other things

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FROM PULLMAN -- As promised, here's the second half of the transcript from Mike Leach's Saturday press conference. He said again that if the season started today, Jeff Tuel would be the starting quarterback, which should not come as any kind of surprise. He also expanded quite a bit on how former BYU coach LaVell Edwards influenced him.

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(On LaVell Edwards) “There’s a lot more than one. He’s easily one of the greatest coaches that’s ever coached and I think that’s indisputable. He’s kind of, I know him a little. I’d like to know him a lot better. He’s one of those guys that’s quiet enough that you know there’s a lot of wisdom and stuff in there that you’d like to draw from. I always thought of him as a great balancer, a guy that with all the forces from all the different directions, he’s great at balancing things. He’s a guy that never overreacted, didn’t panic, and just kind of had faith in his system, what he did and how he went about things until they kind of corrected themselves. He trusted good people to do things and so in the end it was a product and an environment of trust and focus. I think it’s a foundation that still survives at BYU to an extent. Football-wise, it’s very hard to imagine what BYU would be like without LaVell Edwards and also football in America, what it would be like without LaVell Edwards. I’m not the only person that LaVell Edwards influenced on throwing the football and I think the argument could certainly be made that offensively … we may look more BYU than BYU does, if you reflect on the LaVell Edwards days. There’s plays out there that we’re running, watching film the other day, that we got from the golden age back there in BYU when LaVell Edwards was there. And we run it like they did back then except maybe we’ve adjust this route or that route. Early in my coaching career I used to go there and hang out during spring football. Of course coach Edwards was there and I’d hang out with Roger French most of the time and Norm Chow and that whole group as they were throwing the ball all over the place. And it influenced me directly, specifically and it’s a core of the lot of things we do offensively. In general, the philosophy of attacking the whole field and then you take it a step further, in the wishbone they say everybody needs to touch the ball. Well we decided that was important, too. So it’s really helped us offensively. I remember even when Boston College beat Miami, I can’t remember the quotes exactly but they talked about LaVell Edwards and his group influencing them to throw the ball. He’s had an impressive legacy.”

(On receivers getting nasty) “We’ll try to push it during camp. We have a drill called bull in the ring where we circle it up and we’ll match up whoever and have them tee off on each other every day just to remind them this is football. And occasionally you get the fresh-scrubbed player that feels like his uniform doesn’t necessarily have to be dirty or that he’s maybe a white collar type of player or something like that, so we’ll get him out there in bull in the ring and make sure that those impressions get back on track.”

(On how capable WSU is heading into opener) “I’ve been asking myself that for over a month. I think that we’re pretty capable. I think we’ve got a good cohesive staff that I think our teaching has been at a little higher level just for no other reason that I’ve been a head coach now. So there’s some things I didn’t necessarily have to work though. I’ve got I think a more clearly defined staff. I think our players had a really dedicated offseason, worked incredibly hard. But the whole ‘where are we at,’ I don’t know. I wish I could tell you. We’ve had good practices. We’ve had good consistent practice. There’s only one practice that I can think of that we’ve had that I’m really ticked off about. I can think of a couple that maybe were a little below average but I’ve not had a team where I could say that about, where we’ve had the quality and consistent level of practices that we’ve had. So I feel good about it, I feel good about our progress but we haven’t played a game and the evaluation that you get from especially your first three games is really critical as far as shaping the team and where you go from there. So I’m curious myself."

(On Jeff Tuel’s leadership) “Really good leader, does a really good job. Was elected captain. We elect them each week, he was elected captain, one of them. And then I think the team responds, part of it is they know how dedicated Jeff is and they know how hard Jeff’s worked, so they do respond to him. And I think he provides a lot of direction. I know he did in the offseason as far as lifting, running and getting out there and throwing."

(On Steve Sarkisian and playing at BYU) “He’s a great guy and I’ve gotten to know him a little bit as we’re coaching here in the same state. No, and I hadn’t realized that was the first game he went and coached as well. The other thing is, as you might imagine, there’s a rivalry thing. Steve’s a great guy and I enjoy talking to him. We don’t typically share football secrets, us and the University of Washington, but certainly there’s probably some level of détente that will allow that to happen.”

(On it being odd that kicker Andrew Furney is a captain) “Yeah I thought it was too but I’ll tell you, you kind of have to meet this guy. He’s a very engaging individual. I don’t know what he’s majoring in. He probably ought to coach. He has a real good sense of our team and kind of the pulse of our team. When we had players stand up and talk, I thought he gave a really compelling speech, so the more I’ve heard him talk specifically and as I’ve seen him talk to the team, it makes a lot more sense. The players elected him. I had him in the office one time, asked him about the team, what we needed to do to improve and what he saw out there as you bring in key players and interview them and talk to them. And then when he talked to our team – we called on key players to talk to our team during camp and he was one of them – there’s quite a bit more dimension to his mentality and his impact on this team than you would expect from a kicker. He’s one of those guys that kind of holds things together. Very common sense, very level-headed, and kind of really does a good job of seeing things for what they are.”

(On the different places he’s lived) “I like all of it for different reasons. Pepperdine was nice. It was Malibu overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Now, I lived in Conoga Park where we had bars on the windows and helicopters flying overhead at night just to kind of  keep things in check there  in the neighborhood and make sure the misbehavior wasn’t unusually bad that night, that type of thing. I liked it all. I even liked that. When I lived in canoga park, I knew that I wasn’t going to be there forever so I better observe it and enjoy it while I was there. I liked LA, I liked Canoga Park. Malibu’s hard to not like but I didn’t have the money to live in Malibu. I liked BYU and Provo. Lived all over town there. Pullman’s a lot more like the town I grew up in. Really pretty, you can see mountains off there in the distance, kind of rural wildlife. Very down to earth people. Very direct, straightforward. I think that’s one thing I really appreciate here in pullman. This is a lot more like Wyoming where I grew up as far as there’s no real beating around the bush. Everybody’s honest, sincere and direct, and it’s not like you’re trying to layer through agendas and figure out what somebody’s thinking because you know they’re definitely not going to respond how they say they’re going to respond. So I appreciate that. This is a small town where everybody’s involved in everything yet not so small that everybody’s too busy."

(On Jeff Tuel) “He’s gotten most of the reps. If we were to play today he would, and he’s had a good camp and I expect him to have a good week. He’s played well and of course, Connor’s done some good things too. As far as the reps we’ve got to split them in some fashion because you just don’t have enough to go half and half. But if we were to play today, Jeff would be the starter.

Christian Caple can be reached at christianc@spokesman.com. Twitter: @ChristianCaple




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