FROM PULLMAN -- Mike Leach met with the media today for about 28 minutes. We have most of his comments transcribed below. Read on.
(On the strange timeout scenario at the end of Saturday's first half) "That’s kind of an unfortunate deal. We went down there, we clocked it, and I don’t know the confusion. Then they said 'well you called a timeout,' and I said 'I didn’t call a timeout.' I said 'why would I clock it if I called a timeout?' Then they decided, well, they didn’t call a timeout, which was the right decision. The unfortunate thing is we’re getting ready to snap it and they had 12 on the field and the rest which would have been helpful. We were sitting there ready to snap the ball, might have had a big play, at minimum would have gotten 12 on the field."
(On the defense) "We’ve had glimpses of this up to this point. I don’t think we played as complete of a game as we did this last one but I think we’ve had periods and halves where we played real well and did some really good things. I thought this was a more complete effort."
(On the run game) "Against Stanford nobody ran the ball well so there’s a certain amount of … we’re going to look at it and try to take our shots when we had it, but nobody’s ran against Stanford. Physically their D-line’s more physical than our o-line is up front. This business of 'by God we need to establish the running game,' well Stanford’s not really the team to do that against. At any rate we did what we could to mitigate their pass rush and we did march up and down the field and we did outplay them in nearly every statistical category. They’re a little more mature group than us and it was there for us to win and we should have won it."
(On mental toughness) "We’ve gotten better as a team but we’ve got to keep getting better. The other thing is our mentality has held us back a little this year. The only thing that’s stopped us from being this far along, where we’re at now, which I think now we kind of improved this game was ourselves, our own mentality."
(On whether he'd have gone for two on the last possession) "Would have gone to overtime. We had momentum, we’d been doing a good job stopping them. I would have gone for overtime."
(What's your philosophy on that?) "Get a sense of how the thing’s unfolding, like for example if we weren’t moving the ball at all I might try to ambush ‘em, go for two. But we were moving the ball all day. If we weren’t stopping them I might go for two but we were stopping them. I would have gone for overtime."
(On the defense getting a key stop) "Thought it was good, kind of the first time this year that we’d really gotten one with kind of that sense of timing and we marched down field, had kind of a blown protection that led to an intentional grounding which we had a guy open, pretty good shot to get it to him. Their pass rush got us, the last one. I thought it was really closely contested. I think the plays that we’d like to have back the most is the interception and their big pass, busted coverage and scored a touchdown."
(On the communication error between Jeff Tuel and Marquess Wilson) "He was supposed to run a comeback and he kept running downfield but if they’re not on the same page it’s not going to do anybody any good."
(On his general thoughts) "I thought we played physical, I thought we played for four full quarters, I thought we played relaly hard. It’s the hardest we’ve played, it’s the most physical we’ve played, and I thought with regards to all three sides of the ball playing with one another, I thought it was the best game we’ve played. There were opportunities we could have gotten turnovers, scored more points which I wish we would have, but I do think our young guys kind of grew up a little in this game."
(On toughness of receivers) "Two weeks ago they weren’t tough at all. Yeah they’re a little tougher. We’re not there yet. We still flinch a little bit. We need to catch, turn and go straight up field. They catch, flinch and hope they don’t get hit very hard sometimes."
(On Tuel's career-high numbers) "I didn’t know there was career highs but I thought he played well. I thought he moved the offense well and he did it with a lot of pressure. They generated more pressure than anybody we’ve played all year. Based on what I’ve seen on film and based on what I’ve experienced, they have the best front in the conference and one of the best fronts in the country. I don’t think there’s any question about that. I thought he did respond to the pressure really well, took what they gave him and just kept the ball in play."
(On Tuel going back to Bobby Ratliff on the final 4th down) "The one on the corner route would have been a tough catch. He threw the ball to the right place and Bobby came back to it so it was a good throw and catch. Bobby’s a guy that’s got some ability and I think emerges in spurts. Hopefully he can hang onto it, keep playing well. So far this year he’s been inconsistent but there’s no reason for that. He needs to focus in, be a consistent guy and expect to be out there all the time."
(More on Tuel) "I think he does a good job, I think he’s a real solid guy, a real focused guy and a team guy and one of the tougher guys here on this team. There’s a lot of guys that have been around here for a while that just want to punch the clock. He’s not one of those guys, never has been."
(Was there much talk of going to a bowl game before the season?) "Probably more than there should have been. The biggest thing is ... focusing on bowl games or finish lines, that’s putting a whole lot ahead of things. The biggest thing is what’s happened recently to the positive is as a team we’ve embraced winning our invidiaul battles, taking a lot of pride in each individual play, making the most of each individual play and practicing out there on the field. That’s been very important as far as our progress rather than, “well go win the game. Well now we’re losing the game, so we’re sad.” And we were like that too and you can obviously see it. ‘We’re winning the game. Now we’re happy again. Now we’re losing. We’re sad.’ It’s the craziest thing ever and you’re looking at it and it’s hard to believe it’s unfolding in that fashion. At some point it’s got to be fun just to play football for the sake of playing football. 'I knocked the hell out of that guy. Did you see him fly when I hit him? Did you see this catch and did you see this throw and did you see this block? I made this block. You’ll know I made that block. His chest is going to be bruised tomorrow because I made that block.' That type of stuff. And embracing each of those individual plays and making the most of them. That’s where you develop as a player, that’s where you build your skills. At the end of a game if you’re able to stack more plays than the other guy in a better context then you’re going to win. And I think in most cases last week we did stack up more plays. Their context was a little better, they had some maturity at key times. They’re loaded with seniors and we’re loaded with freshmen and that’s the way it unfolded. But I thought we got better. I thought too much of this just worrying about the results and not enjoying the process plagued us early."
(On all the losing) "I knew this was going to be challenging. I’ve never played this many freshmen before though either. The good news is they’re going to have extra years and more experience."
(On Utah) "They’re physical and defensive minded, try to push the envelope, pretty aggressive, kind of powerful, physical. Searching for an identity a little bit at quarterback but that guy’s certainly got some potential."
(On a Bill Snyder Halloween costume he saw this one time in Manhattan, Kansas) "We played Kansas State once and you always stay at the same hotel because it’s the only one in Manhattan, Kansas and they strategically stick you there, and of course Kansas State knows the deal and every time I’ve ever been there, there’s this gigantic frat party going on in a conference room right next to where our meetings are … they’d always stick you by that room and there’d be a bunch of drunk sororities and fraternities in there having a big time whether it’s Halloween or not. One time as I’m walking there, and it’s Halloween, son of a gun if there isn’t this guy standing there that looks exactly like Bill Snyder. He’s got him a purple shirt, he’s got him a clipboard, he’s even got, Bill Snyder has a trademark, he wears Nike Cortezes. He’s got some deal with Nike, they go through all those old warehouses and they find Nike Cortezes to fit Bill. They’ve got the swoosh and the whole thing. And Nike Cortezes are some of the greatest shoes they’ve ever had. Quite frankly I don’t know that Nike’s made anything better since the Cortez. I have a lot of respect for Nike but that was one of their masterpieces. I’ve actually asked Bill to send me a pair and he never has. I don’t know that (the person) had Nike Cortezes but they had their shoes done up so it looked like his trademark Nike Cortezes, purple top, had the hair white, had the glasses going and had a clipboard so as we’re walking to our meetings with this loud frat party going on, I did a double-take, ‘what’s Bill Snyder doing here?’ it wasn’t Bill but it was a pretty good costume."