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Video: Mike Leach Monday press conference

Video courtesy of WSU Athletics.

Question: Has the Pac-12 been more transparent and communicative about officiating?

Mike Leach: I'm not allowed to comment on officiating, as much as I'd like to. I think they ought to have a representative that you can ask those questions to.

Q: But is the process more open?
ML: I think it's very similar to before.

Q: What were your thoughts after watching film of the Cal game?
ML: We played hard, we've got to execute better. We didn't win, it's about as simple as that, you know.

Q: Were the sacks on the offensive line or Luke Falk?
ML: I think both, I think instances of both, for sure. I think both have a responsibility to not get sacked. If you're a quarterback, get rid of it. Sort something out. If you're an offensive lineman, there's a point to where, let's say the quarterback holds the ball. Well, why was it your guy that sacked him? The four other guys' guy didn't sack him, why did your guy get there first? I mean there's a point to where you've got to compete at all of that. A quarterback doesn't want to give a touchdown back or something and he holds the ball for five seconds, those offensive linemen want to have credit for a sack when then they don't do their job but he gets rid of it in a second and a half because he has to throw it real quick. Well everybody's got to take up for the other. Well, I thought he needed to not get sacked and a portion of it was him getting rid of the ball and a significant portion of it, I didn't think we played very consistently up front. I think right now, there's been some positive publicity about our offensive line that currently doesn't appear to be very justified.

Q: Was Falk passing downfield more a positive in Saturday's game?
ML: Yeah, there were a lot of positive things in the game. There were a lot of positive things in the game. We need to figure out a way to win, we didn't. We had an opportunity to win, we didn't. There were a lot of positive things in that game. We played hard, all sides of the ball contributed, all sides of the ball had opportunities we didn't fully capitalize on.

Q: Is that where this team is at? Improving but not translating to wins?
ML: I think there's some truth to that. I think we practice hard, I think we play hard. But then I think in our case we need to really pay a lot of attention to detail. All this business of somebody's only started for a year or he's a young fella. Well, forget that. You've got to step up and act like you belong there and play like you belong there. It's a blessing and a privilege to be able to play early and have the opportunity to do those things. Well, now act like you belong there. Now focus in like you belong there.

Q: Do you feel like you're seeing progress?
ML: Oh I think there's no question about that but you always want it to be faster and I'd like the progress to be faster. Any way that we see that we can speed it up, we need to do it. I think there's been movement forward and improvement but we've got to do everything we can to speed it up.

Q: How encouraging is it to see them forcing turnovers on defense and how discouraging is it on offense to not score off those turnovers?
ML: Well, defensively we're playing really hard and running to the ball. Neither side scored on the back end of heir turnovers and, obviously, we expected to be able to score. I thought, yeah, if you have the opportunity to score then you should score. There's not any more disappointment, we want to score every drive.

Q: Have you noticed improvement by the defense at reacting to sudden changes and turnovers?
ML: Well, we had three fourth down stops. Those are like turnovers. WE stopped Cal three times on fourth down. I thought that was very good defensively and that's like a turnover.

Q: But in regards to the defense's response to turnovers by the WSU offense?
ML: Yeah, I thought they did. I thought they did and I thought defensively we did a good job a lot of times. But key drives they let them off the hook, just like we did on offense. That's the biggest thing. We had our chances and let them off the hook on all sides of the ball.

Q: What do you see out of the Oregon defense?
ML: They run really well. They give you a lot of looks and they run to the ball really well.

Q: They've given up a lot of big plays. Does that give you an advantage?
ML: Well, they're very aggressive. They're very aggressive, some similarities to last year. Fast, aggressive and they'll try to disguise the looks, give you a lot of different looks.

Q: Would you be OK with Falk throwing more interceptions if it meant being more decisive and quick?
ML: Well, I can think of two, one sack I thought he held the ball and the other I thought he held up on a naked play where he's supposed to roll out. The other ones I thought we got him pressure and then the other one, and there were several times he got hit and still shouldn't have got hit. If you're going to be an offensive lineman and you're the toughest unit on the team then you've got to be the toughest. Go out there and whip the guy across from you just because you're tougher than he is. If that's not your mentality, you probably ought to play something else. Like Scrabble, maybe, or something like that.

Q: Did you see reluctance from Falk to check down to running backs?
ML: No, I didn't. He completed 70 percent, no I didn't.

Q: How impressive is Royce Freeman?
ML: Good player, explosive.

Q: Is it tough preparing for their murky quarterback situation?
ML: I don't think it really is. They're both similar. It's tough preparing because they're quality quarterbacks but they have enough similarities that it doesn’t change anything up. … They're both similar quality guys so whichever one they select, that guy's tough and can move the offense.

Q: What does Gabe Marks bring that the other receivers don't?
ML: Well, he's more experienced then some. And he's explosive, competitive, wants the ball.

Q: Do you think Marks brings a fire that you would like to see in more players?
ML: Yeah, some, but people demonstrate how they play differently than others. But yeah, excited, emotional player. Ended up with 140 yards, should have had more. Had an opportunity to get more.

Q: Do you have a preference for whether your defensive coordinator calls plays from the press box or sideline?
ML: His call, wherever he wants to be that's his call. No matter who you are, there's a similarity to how you do it, whether the coordinator's in the box or on the field. One way or the other, there's a conversation between somebody on the field and somebody up top. And then the guy on the field is going to signal and the guy up top's going to spot and evaluate and kind of word illustrate what they see. Whether you flip it from the field to the top, it really doesn't matter.

One thing, some guys like it at the top because they feel like they can see better and think in a more quiet fashion. The game's sort of like a video game up there in a way. But no matter what, you've got to keep an eye on the players and there's guys that need to be picked up or settled down. But I think the way they're handling it goes really well. And the fact that he's comfortable with it, I think is the best approach for us.

Q: Have you ever been in the box?
ML: I did for two games. I personally didn't like the box. Why I didn't like the box was I've always felt, because everybody's got their different approach, I've always felt that it's a game played by people. People's emotions go up and down and so I've always felt that. And part of it is that I first started off as an offensive line coach and the offensive line coach is always on the field, so I came by it naturally and as I evolved into a coordinator, one I wasn't used to being in the box and two, I liked being there so I can see and address the ups and downs of the team. With that said, the same thing, I talk to Graham Harrell up top and of course we have a conversation about what he sees, because he can see better than I can, because he's got a better vantage point. And there's a discussion about how to proceed through the game plan.

Q: Do you choose based on personality?
ML:  Sometimes, it's a combination of that and then the other thing would be the position or the role that they have. Because one way or the other, no matter what happens, one of the receiver coaches is going to be up top. And then in our case we currently have both. One way or the other, the offensive line coach is going to have some dialogue with the O-line (graduate assistant) and another coach, whoever you feel like has the best eyes of the field. Sometimes people have a knack or personality for it like you described and sometimes by position they're going to be up there. I think in coach Grinch's case, he's always been in the secondary. A lot of times secondary guys are box guys. I imagine, and that's a good question, I imagine he's spent more time in the box than not so his background puts him there in a similar fashion to mine puts me in the field.

Q: What has Grinch shown you through the first four games?
ML: The biggest thing is just steady improvement by our defense. We're getting faster and quicker, and getting better. The other thing is his philosophy of the game is similar to mine: You constantly focus on improving, constantly focus on what you can do better and there's not point where you talk about him relaxing or gee we played good, let's just enjoy it and all that stuff.

Q: Do you know much about Vernon Adams?
ML: Good player, but the other guy's a good player, too. And the other thing, whether he can entirely go or not, I'm not sure they're entirely sure who's ahead of who.

Q: Do the early kickoffs this year feel different?
ML: I don't know, I don't pay much attention. I don't know what time the game is this Saturday. We'll figure that all out on Thursday.

Q: What are your thoughts on the conference?
ML: I think it's like last year. Nobody knew for sure what our conference would be like because there are a couple of new faces, in particular a lot of teams had starting quarterbacks back the year before and now there're new guys. But, you know, I think what many suspected is true: That teams reloaded and they're very competitive and that type of thing. Of course Utah has always been very imposing defensively and then there were some plays that got away from Oregon and that inflated the score. Utah's a big, physical team and they're going to test you no matter what. They're going to come upfield and hit your quarterback. The idea is of course that you get rid of the ball and score real quick, but they're still planning to hit him a bunch and they will, and they did. And of course Utah had a couple big plays on special teams and offense and Oregon couldn't stop them.

Q: Can you get much from that film?
ML: Well yeah, you'll see how they address the looks. It's not like somebody watches the Utah film and all of a sudden you're guaranteed 60 points or whatever it adds up to. But you look at what you have in common with Utah and how they try to address the problems and things.

Q: What's your favorite place to eat in Pullman?
ML: Favorite place to eat in Pullman. My two favorites are Black Cypress – very good, the building and the property itself is very interesting and Nick, the owner, fantastic guy and very brilliant as far as all their stuff. Two doors down is Taqueria Chaparrito, great Mexican food and that guy there does a great job. So those would be my two favorites.

Q: Do you have time to visit in season?
Ml: Sometimes. Basically, one night a week during the season if you decide to go out to eat you know you can. Thursday night. And sometimes Chaparrito you can just hurry by and grab stuff.

Q: Still getting the green macha at Café Morro?
ML:  I have. I kind of defer to him and he decides, you know. He decides and they stir stuff up. They've got the powder. It's all very mysterious. It's a lot like the medical profession. They wear white, cloak-y stuff and then of course they have a stethoscope on that they never use and they write in illegible handwriting because they think it's not our business to see what it says and they'll stick it in Latin. And it's all just this charade of I'm the doctor and you're not, so it's very similar to that.

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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