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Mike Leach Monday press conference

Above is the video of his press conference, courtesy of WSU Athletics. A transcription of the highlights from Leach's remarks is below.


Question: Did any issues show up on tape that weren't obvious during Saturday's game?

Mike Leach: Not really. We played flat. Of every football activity we've had this year, this is by far the worst one. A lot of you guys in here come to all our practices, you've seen practice, you saw the game—there's a huge difference. We've just got to make it so there's not a difference.

Q: Why did they come out flat?

ML: I think some of the new guys had a slight amount of stage fright, and then I think some of the older guys wanted to make too much happen, they wanted to be really good, really fast. They wanted to go out there and show what they can do. They tried to do too much, then when that didn't happen, they got frustrated. And of course Portland State deserves an enormous amount of credit.

Q: Might there be more of a hangover from the loss for those new players?

ML: Yeah, they need to calm down. I think some of it was they just go out anxious, try to make too much happen. But we did have a lot of new guys in key positions all over the thing. They're good quality new guys and they're new guys that we were excited about, and remain excited about, but you know the first major college game going out there, they struggled some.

Q: Did Luke Falk play more conservatively than you expected?
ML: I thought his tempo was slow. I thought that, but I thought his tempo was slow. Just trying to make the perfect play. We need to just get in a good rhythm and go out there and execute. I thought he dwelled on too much, too slow. We just need to go out there and go. You're never going to figure out the perfect play. You just want good value on a play.

Q: Would you like him to throw downfield more?
ML: Yeah, just in general. We spent a lot of time trying to sort it out. There's nothing to sort out. Just go run something.

Q: Could you call certain plays to get him in a rhythm?
ML: Well, we want our quarterback to have the ability to check. I think we've got to curtail some of that. I think it needs to be more either/or instead of just opening the thing up. The biggest thing, and there were about two series in the second half I thought he did some of that, we created some adversity for ourselves.

Q: Apart from not scoring in the red zone, was the first half what you want to see from this team?
ML: I thought it was OK. I thought it was OK. I thought, you know there was nothing special about the way we played on offense. You can say we were productive in some ways, in the end. We kept the ball for a long time, did this, did that, but we ran 43 plays and scored 10 points. Well, that's crazy. And, you know, we don't need to go out there and rush through either one. We need to have a better tempo when we do it than all these guys trying to make everything perfect, you know, we need to relax.

Q: Did you notice players whining about the weather or other things?
ML: I didn't have any whining, really.  I had guys that were flat, frustrated, trying to make too much happen. I don't recall any whining.

Q: There weren't players concerned with the weather, playing time, etc.?
ML:  No, we didn't have any of that. It was more, to me I felt it was over-trying early on, expecting to go out there and score two touchdowns each play and then, when that didn't happen, frustration. I didn't see any whining. And then, I saw guys if they made a mistake they'd play real tight, over-analytical. It was all hyper-effort stuff instead of flat, dismissive stuff. There was more wanting to make too much happen, rather than withdrawing.

None of the whining stuff, if I get any of those whiny guys, I'm just going to cut them, you know? Cut some last year, should have cut more than I did, er, should have cut them sooner. But we don't have any of that. Haven't seen any of it, either.

Q: Does Rutgers look similar to last year?
ML: Yeah, very similar. I mean, last week's game is hard to say, last week's game's a little hard to say. But yeah, very similar. Same looks, same stuff, same idea and they've had success with it so they'll stick with it.

I mean, this stuff's fun to write about but people don't, you know, I certainly get the impression that there are people out there in journalist-land – and I know this, for a fact, because I was a journalist for two years if you think about it, even though I had to be tutored by experts, Jack Arute and Roger Twyble. There's a lot of them in your industry that think this an episode of the Road Runner, and so it's all Wile E. Coyote going back there inventing something to see if it will drop on the road runner and mash him, you know. There's maybe a play or two of that, as in one or two plays each week, but it's a game of execution and we didn't execute well. Guys (were) trying to over-execute and worry about the other guy's job. It's a game of execution so I don't think they're going to reinvent something and say, get a bunch of, they're not going to go draw on the drawing board and break out a bunch of boxes that say ACME on it with a bunch of equipment and try to build a catapult and all this stuff to ensnare us. They're going to say our stuff is pretty good and they're going to line up and do it he best they can and hope to do it better than we do and go from there.

Q: What do you know about Chris Laviano, the Rutgers QB?
ML: He's pretty good. I don't know a lot about him. Good, solid quarterback. Kind of like the guy they had last year I suppose.

Q: Any benefit to going on the road right now?
ML: Ah, we've just got to have the mental discipline to just worry about ourselves and just focus on that. I'd rather play in Martin Stadium but we're going to Rutgers, so that's great and it'll be really exciting for all our guys to go to that part of the country and show what we can do there. You don't get a lot of cross-(country) trips like this and we're excited about this one and so, we're looking forward to a good week of practice and then getting over there and playing.

Q: Do you want last year's loss to Rutgers to be on your players' minds?
ML: They just need to worry about individual plays. They need to just worry about executing like we do in Wednesday's practice.

Q: How do you fix the tackling with a short week of practice?
ML: Well, we've been tackling well. We've been tackling well up into this point. A lot of it is overrun stuff or guys not executing the call or being in the right gap. Sometimes it's overshooting or, 'oh, I thought he was going to do this.' We don't care what you thought, we told you to do this gap. It's about as easy as that, but it's anxiousness.

Q: Were the defense's second-half struggles a result of the defensive line not getting push?
ML: It was more, it wasn't that as much as we played with eight a lot, there'd be somebody in the wrong place. You'd have this gap accounted for and he's not there. It was more like that. Individually, we'd have guys free, and we'd have guys unblocked, you know, and we'd have really good push to one side and then somebody's supposed to be in this gap and it's exposed. It was more a lack of execution.

Q: Thoughts on Peyton Bender and what makes him well-suited to run your offense?
ML: It was an incredibly tough spot and his arm wasn't even warm when he had to go in. I think he's going to be a very good player and we're very excited about him. Any conclusions to be drawn from that – there isn't anything to be drawn from that. He went in a tough spot and played three plays and that was about the end of it.

Q: What did you see from him in camp?
ML: He throws a ball extremely well, very level-headed and his knowledge of the offense is growing.

Q: What did you say when you pulled him aside before he went in?
ML: Just calming him down, telling him alright, do it like practice. I'm sure I got in the play call and told him how I thought he should read it.

Q: Do you expect Falk to play on Saturday?
ML: Sure, I guess I do.

Q: Bender's first college action ended on an interception. Do you calm him down after?
ML: Yeah, it was a bad read. Let's put it this way: It was a bad read on that by more than just the quarterback. It was a bad read.

Q: Do you comfort or build him up afterward?
ML: No, you go play the next play and make a good read on that one.

Q: Were you able to sort out the communications issues?
ML: We did have some communications issues, I thought. And they were relatively subtle but they would surface at bad times. Again, trying to do too much. Like the ones from the quarterback were trying to do too much. We'd start out with a good play and try to go to a bad play and end up going to a mediocre play. Somewhere in the course of three plays, somebody's off the script. Well, we just have to be clear-minded and communicate, you know.

Q: So you will simplify the offense this week?
ML: We'll run the same offense but with regards to his options per play, we'll probably limit those.

ML: How do you loosen your team up? Whose responsibility is that?
Q: Really, it's there's. If you want to play, you come out ready to go. I think we need to just warm them up. I think we need to get their bodies moving as they're coming out at the half. I think that's key and I think that we need to do that.

Q: Is there any doubt Falk will start at quarterback?
ML: No.

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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