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Monday WSU press conference

Kache Palacio's weekly improvement culminated in a dominant performance in WSU's 39-32 win over OSU.

All three of his tackles were for a loss, including a pair of sacks, pushing the Beavers back a total of 21 yards in WSU's 39-32 win.

Mike Leach said on Monday that it was probably Palacio's best game since he enrolled at WSU. But he also had some funny words to say about Palacio's position – a hybrid linebacker/defensive end. Leach doesn't seem to care how they define Palacio's position, as long as he keeps getting sacks.

"I don't even pay attention to what a Buck is. There's either edge guys or there's not, you know? All this fancy defensive terminology, I get tired of it," Leach said. "There's a guy on the edge that's going to rush the hell out of the passer or … that's it. I think we've done a good job and I think as we've gotten more speed on the field at the edge positions it's helped us."

We're not going to be able to post so many videos for a little while as we transition to a newer, cooler SportsLink. But here are links to today's videos of Leach, Cyrus Coen, Kache Palacio and Joe Dahl.

All of Leach's comments are transcribed after the jump.

(Arizona State lost a lot of defensive starters last season, including some very good defensive linemen. Have you noticed them change their scheme at all with those players gone?)

Pretty similar. They blitz more would be the biggest thing.

(What have you seen from Jordan Simone?)

Good, steady player, I think.

(Is he a really good athlete or does he compensate with hustle and intelligence?)

I think a little of both. I think he's good from the neck up. Plays smart, hustles around. I think kind of a combination of all of it.

(Would it be nice to still have him at WSU?)

He was here so briefly that I didn't know much about him. He was literally only here for probably two weeks when we first got here but he's a good player, hustles around and it seems like he leads the secondary pretty good.

(Will it hurt Luke Falk that teams have tape on him now?)

Probably not too much. He's eerily similar to the quarterbacks I've had for the last 23 years and so I think there's some similarity there but I think the bigger thing in our case is the most experienced Falk gets the better he'll play.

(What similarities are you referring to?)

He's accurate, he makes good decisions. In his case, he's unusually good in the pocket. In his case he's more mature than usual and essentially we run similar plays, similar philosophy and things like that. There's not some, hey, this guy's an inch taller or his feet are an inch bigger or smaller so now they can take advantage of this. That's not quite how it works.

(How does he compare to quarterbacks you've had in the past in terms of how much he studies film?)

More than most. In the past all of them have watched a lot of film and already I'd say he's more than most. He's one of the guys you'll see lurking around at night even, watching film. You'll see him a lot and unexpectedly so. Then you'll get texts where he's asking for stuff for his iPad. "It hasn't been updated, where is it. I need it now."

(Is his pocket presence innate or is it a product of film study?)

I think it's both but I do think that it's a natural talent that you can enhance through film study, through coaching, reps and a lot of plays. He's good enough at it now that clearly there's some natural talent to it because you do have to kind of feel where the pressure is and when, because you want to hold it until the last possible instant but never get caught with it so I think he's very good at that and some of that is he's talented that way.

(How will you find time for River Cracraft when Tyler Baker has played so well in his absence?)

I think they'll split reps. Tyler's done a good job, led the team in receptions the last two games so I think we'll just have them split reps.

(Do you know who will start in place of Daquawn Brown?)

No, not exactly. I imagine we'll let it unfold as we go through practice.

(Do you change your routine this week with such an early start?)

No, because we have to go to school so that's a little tough to do. That's the thing, until we're a massive football factory we've got to keep them in school. But I'll tell you what we do in the morning is we do have a breakfast club going for the guys that need to get caught up on their grades and propel that way and this is a key time in the semester to do it. We broke the record for graduation rate and broke some of it for GPA's and expect to do it again.

(Are you more strict about curfew with the early start?)

They're right there with us the whole time, they'll be going where everybody else does. It's not like there's somewhere for them to leak out.

(Is it the earliest start you've had?)

No. The Cotton Bowl always used to start at 10 a.m. I think I've been to three 10 a.m. games before, two of them were Cotton Bowls. I can't remember the third but it seems like there was another.

(Was Oregon State the most complete game you've seen WSU play this year?)

Probably, especially the defense and special teams in particular. I thought they played well and thought it was our best special teams game.

(Did you notice anything different in your team in practice coming off a win?)

The biggest thing, we need to focus on being as competitive as we can as we work toward the next one.

(Will it be extra important for Falk to get the ball out quickly this week?)

Yeah, if they blitz. We've been under quite a bit of blitz this year but, I mean a lot of people blitz, they vary, and if you have success you're going to see the opposite. If you move the ball successfully you'll see the opposite of whatever they start with.

(How do you think the team has handled the blitz?)

Good.

(Do you expect Jacob Seydel to start against ASU?)

Yes.

(How much of a strength is Jamal Morrow against a blitz with his ability to catch passes out of the backfield?)

I think he's decent, I think he needs to get better. I think he's a work in progress but I do think he does a lot of good things that way.

(Could Marcus Mason see time this week because of his receiving abilities?)

Yeah, he could. He's done some good stuff and he does a good job receiving.

(What have you seen from this ASU team?)

Good team. Good, solid team. They have good players, they have explosive players like they always do and they play together pretty well.

(Anything you noticed that Oregon State did well to beat them?)

The biggest thing, they're just competitive. They kept playing, stayed focus and found a way to win at the end. In crunch time they separated themselves.

(Were you surprised they didn't stick with Mike Bercovici at quarterback once Taylor Kelly came back?)

No. I mean, he's led them for a long time and done a lot of good things.

(Has the fact that some guys have lost their spots inspired other starters to stay competitive?)

I think it's manifested itself two ways: If a guy really wants to play he doesn’t want to get beat out, if a guy doesn't care to play and just wants to sit around with his hand out and pick up little trinkets and awards then maybe it has a different thing. But I think that the key is we're very competitive at a lot of positions, that we had have some young guys surface that really want to be players at a higher level than others and I think it has resulted in more competitive things and some older guys have gotten beat out.

(Vince Mayle is a Biletnikoff Award semifinalist. What have you seen from him this year?)

Good season. Biggest thing this year is he started playing really physical. The more physical he plays the better he is and he's faster than you think he is. Vince has worked extremely hard since he got here to really develop his skills and it continues to pay off as he improves. So it doesn't surprise me and I've had some Biletnikoff guys so it doesn't surprise me Vince is on the list.

(He clearly changed his body but how much has he improved in other aspects?)

I think a lot. I think he knows more of the nuances of the game, I think he's more explosive, I think he doesn't hesitate, I think he does a good job completing the next play and he continues to build on the effort he's put in up to this point. He's a lot better at catching the ball over his outside shoulder. I think he's gotten better in a lot of ways.

(How concerning are his drops the last two weeks?)

He's just got to work through that and concentrate better. It's just concentration.

(How have the coverage units gotten better?)

I think some personnel changes and simplifying what we were running before … I think they've done a good job simplifying things and we've gotten some people out of there that weren't as competitive and put some guys in that are more competitive.

(Are younger players more likely to be unable to last a full season?)

Maybe, can be, they haven't had the log of offseasons that the others have had and we've got a lot of young guys so as a result we've had to roll a bunch of them through there.

(How has Kache Palacio developed at WSU?)

Done a great job. Came here kind of raw, explosive guy, he's gotten better and better. I think Oregon State was probably the best game he's had since he's been here.

(Student question: How has law school helped you as a coach?)

I think it's helped as far as working through a lot in a limited amount of time. Most of what you do in law school you have a whole bunch of tasks and not a lot time to do it. Even the law school finals, by design, you have three hours. They give you about a six hour test and give you three hours to take it so you have to figure out what priorities are the most important and slam through it. So I think focusing on key issues that are important, move the needle forward, organizing your time and getting a lot done quickly. I think it's been really helpful and as problems cross your desk, the ability to evaluate them from a number of sides has been helpful.

(And the competition aspect?)

Oh, it's very competitive, very ruthless. They'd give assignments in law school and all the books for that assignment would disappear and it wasn't because somebody was just hogging them on their desk, it was to undercut the competition. And so then – I was actually a little closer to UCLA's law library so I'd go to UCLA and use their books rather than have to scrounge around. This was before you could just scrounge stuff up on computers, either the book was there or it wasn't. That was the age of a lot of Xeroxing. It is ruthless. Everybody's smart, everybody's accomplished, everybody's competitive. Now, not all of them are good people. I can tell you that right now. Look no further than Washington DC, which is mostly attorneys, and you can see that there's plenty of problems but they are aggressive, competitive people and so yeah, you learn that, too. You learn how to compete with the best society has to offer and some of the ugliest of the underbelly of society but in any case it enhances your human experience and your ability to deal with it.



Jacob Thorpe
Jacob Thorpe joined The Spokesman-Review in 2013. He currently is a reporter for the Sports Desk covering Washington State University athletics.

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