Washington State holds its first practice of the 2015 season tomorrow in Lewiston. Mike Leach spoke with reporters on Friday to preview fall camp.
Here is a transcript of the Q&A session:
(Are you any closer than you were at the end of spring practice to naming a starting quarterback?)
Mike Leach: No
(Any other changes to the depth chart since spring?)
ML: You know, I don't pay particular attention to those depth charts. We play them as we think they ought to play so I can't tell l you what the post spring depth chart exactly or what was printed or that you had. I can't really think, there will be some changes because we've got some freshman in here that could potentially challenge somebody for a position or beat somebody out. We'll have to see when they're out there on the field.
But not being aware of what we handed out as a depth chart after spring, I could probably tell you if you have a specific position to ask. I imagine there will be some changes back and forth in a variety of directions a few days into camp.
(Do you expect all the freshmen to arrive on time?)
As far as I know. There could be one or two (late enrollees) but as far as I know they're pretty well set and we've got everybody.
(Any changes to roster in the offseason in terms of player dismissals or transfers other than Sean Krepsz?)
ML: I'm sure there was, but I can't recall them. Guys come and go off and on, but I don't recall them. I mean, I leave that for you to sort out. If a guy does a good job and we can use them, we put them on board. If somebody wants to go somewhere for whatever reason they may be or they don't behave right and get dismissed, it's about as simple as that. So I worry about the ones that are here rather than the ones that aren't here.
(Did you watch any of Taylor Taliulu's "The Grind" videos?)
ML: I haven't seen any recently. I know he does some, I know he's very much a music guy and very skilled at it. It adds quite a bit of dimension to what he does, very driven and he does a very good job. Any time somebody's got something they're very consumed with and that they think of all the time, they tend to be successful at it. I think he'll be very successful musically in some capacity.
(Why hasn't he been able to hold onto a starting spot?)
ML: Well, the reason is periodically people beat him out. That's not up to us to fix, he's got to fix it. Taylor's doing a lot of good things but, more than ever it's going to be hard to hang on to any position because we're steadily improving.
(Why do you like having fall camp in Lewiston?)
ML: Avoid distractions, make everything about football, there's nothing going on, on the campus there so everybody can – we can room people with people they wouldn't ordinarily be familiar with or know. We do a rooming list and try to make sure that somebody's roommates with somebody they don't have much in common with so they get to know each other.
We can get a little old-school there with Sacajawea (Middle School) and take busses to it. It's not fancy, it's a good opportunity for us to be together as a team and get our work done.
(Do the players enjoy it?)
ML: Yeah I think so. It's always been very positively received by them and then it definitely creates an identity.
(Is one reason to practice off campus to help the WSU football brand?)
ML: That's really just a byproduct. The original reason we went to Lewiston was because we didn't have space because we had all kinds of construction going on in Pullman. Our practice fields were occupied with construction equipment as they were building our complex, our football complex, which is the nicest football complex in all the Big-12, or all the Pac-12, all the Big-12 and maybe the world.
We kind of had to go there because we didn't have space and after that I thought it really brought the team together and the team really bonded out there. And so we've been going ever since.
So we've been going ever since.
(Will the youth in the secondary be helpful or hurtful this year?)
ML: Both. I think there will be some guys that are very enthusiastic to go out there and win starting positions and beat out maybe some people, out or take some plays away from guys that have been here. But then also, I think their best football is ahead as they go through the learning curve and develop their skills.
(How has new defensive coordinator Alex Grinch already made an impact?)
ML: One thing is a very clear minded message. He's a very clear-minded guy with a clear message. There's no equivocating and everybody knows their role and I think that's a skill that gets them on the field early and he's got a lot of diversity to his defense.
I thought in the past we've been more scattered than was ideal. There's been too many blending of philosophies, there hasn't been the core beliefs I would have liked and Grinch has that, which I think a very important addition.
(How will the offensive line mesh this season?)
ML: I think they'll mesh together good and I think they keep getting better. They're a good group to work with and now they've got a little experience, they've got everybody back. But even those that are back are going to be challenged to keep their job because some of those young guys are talented and have worked hard, too. So I think there will be some battles out there and I think we'll have more experience and depth at that position than we did last year.
(Are there any junior college transfers in particular that you see pushing for a starting spot on defense?)
ML: It's difficult to say. We've just got to get out there. I think obviously we think the JC guys have a better chance to do something early. For all the things I've been right about in this business, the one item I've been most consistently wrong about is speculating which new guys that come in will be successful and which ones aren't.
Part of it is, there are a lot of intangibles that go along with that. Sometimes it's opportunity, sometimes it's focus and motivation motivation. In all cases it's something to do with the guy that adjusts the quickest, the ability to come in and adjust quickly. The best guy doesn't always contribute the most, it's the one that comes in, does what he can do in the midst of a competition and playing football at a higher level, doesn't let it distract him, just does what he can do.
(How excited are you about football season?)
ML: Well, that's the best part. We're not on the field yet, we'd excited to be on the field tomorrow. Yeah, I mean that's the biggest thing. Once you get the first few days under your belt, things really get on a roll.