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Thursday, August 22, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Mike Leach Monday press conference

Video courtesy of WSU Athletics.


Question: Will Suli Hameed redshirt?

Mike Leach: We haven't decided any of that yet. It's possible?

Q: At what point in the season do you decide?

ML:  Well, I mean, you just decide as soon as you can. Each case is kind of different. If we decide, we're not necessarily going to broadcast it or share it with you guys. And plus, we're not going to put any pressure on ourselves to decide just because you guys would like to know?

Q: What do you know about Wyoming coach Craig Bohl's Tampa defense?
ML: I think it's good, I think it's good. He does it in kind of a unique, old-school way. Very aggressive, because in my mind Tampa is a lot of times a sit-and-wait-for-something-to-happen defense, and then react to it. They're a little more aggressive than that and I think they do a good job. I think they, guys fly around that's one thing you'll see is guys flying around, playing really hard on film.

Q: Is the aggressiveness why he's been able to stick with it when other teams have moved away from it?
ML: They do it more snaps. Everybody, not everybody I guess, but a lot of teams, ourselves and the last two teams we've played. A lot of teams have it, they'll have it as a call but they won't really hate it as their base. He's got it more as a base element of what he does and they do it more aggressively. It's like anything, if you do it a bunch you get good at it.

Q: Why were his North Dakota State teams so successful against FBS competition?
ML: Well, I think that's a really good setup there. That's like the school with the most resources at that level that there is, and they've always been good. Then the other thing is he really did a good job as far as coaching them. I think they were just a good, fundamental team. They never lost sight of the fundamentals, they did everything hard, fundamentally, and weren't fancy and all that but very aggressive.

Q: What stood out as the difference in Luke Falk between weeks one and two?
ML: Played faster, I think people played faster around him too. Our tempo, we had better tempo, a lot quicker. We were more decisive.

Q: Do you think Falk running and getting hit rather than slide inspires the players?
ML: Maybe half. Now, if you've got a guy you can throw it to, that's what you should do.

Q: In what ways does he lead by example?
ML: I think that's all pretty well established because they know he works harder than they do. They all know he works harder than they do

Q: Did you think the offensive line played well?

ML: I thought we pass protected really well. I thought we did a really good job of pass protection. Run blocking I think we need to finish more. I think we're kind of point-of-attack guys. We get what we could at the point of attack but there was more to be had if we'd continued to play aggressive after the first level.

Q: What did you think of Falk's execution on the final drive?
ML: For the most part, real good. I thought the biggest thing is he was calm and composed and held the huddle together with his presence and expected to move the ball and win. I thought his demeanor was probably the strongest thing that he brought, which is impressive because that's the most difficult thing for most people in those situations.

Q: Do you set specific spots on the field you would like to get to with certain amounts of time left in those situations?
ML: Not really or else you'll use up all your time thinking about what you want to do. Pretty much just figure out where you think they're going to present space and attack it and get what you can but then get out of bounds when you can. I've never been a guy that's afraid to throw it over the middle in those situations. They say you're not supposed to, but I've never bought that. I mean, yards are yards, you have to get them one way or the other.

Q: Can this win change the team's culture?
ML: I thought the mentality was very good. I think our effort and playing hard has been good, really starting last year, as we got into winter conditioning, I thought that part has been very good. Now, I think we've got to elevate some of our young guys so they respond that way, but we've got to get them acclimated because there's a difference between having the right attitude and being able to actually do it. Your first time out there, and we have several of those guys in key positions, several in the secondary, several of our receivers and several special teams guys. I think it all starts with the right attitude and then you build from now.

Right now, we're more enthusiastic than we are sharp in executing. We're a real enthusiastic group, we work hard, we like being around each other and working hard. But we need to be able to execute. Sometimes in the excitement of all that, the execution will go out the window, and I thought it did several times on Saturday. There was focus and we wanted to win and really wanted to work hard, but all of a sudden the do your job part would get to be just raw excitement and running around. We've got to be able to control that and elevate that, and be able to do it all the time.

And I thought it was a very good Rutgers team. And I thought it was a better team than last year, which surprised me, but they were better than last year, in particular their running backs. I thought our guys responded and always expected to be in it. But execution makes it a lot easier. In the end, we got the job done. But there's a lot easier way to do it than we did it, on all sides of the ball, it was a lot easier than we did it.

Q: Is Logan Tago an example of a player who is aggressive and excited but lacking in execution?
ML: Yeah, Logan definitely needs to work on his execution. He's extremely talented and he's a prime example of a guy that never played college football until a week and a half ago. He's a real talented guy so the more precise he plays, the better he'll be.

Q: Was it a welcome change to force more turnovers?
ML: Yeah, definitely. Turnovers are a byproduct of being around the ball. If you play aggressive, you're around the ball. Because you don't know when turnovers are going to happen. Turnovers happen when everybody's around the ball. Turnovers happen when (Peyton) Pelluer and (Robert) Barber pressure the quarterback and he floats it out there and (Marcellus) Pippins catches it. Turnovers happen when you pressure the guy and he tries to throw the ball and drops it. Turnovers happen when you fly around and you're around the ball, and that's the thing we did pretty well.

Q: Would you consider punting the ball out of bounds to avoid a return?
ML: Well, we should have. That was the call, to punt it out of bounds and we just missed. We should have done it and we'll need to do it some.

Q: Are you concerned about Falk taking hits while running?
ML: He needs to be smart. He doesn't need to be real quick to run. The ones where he's got no choice, you live with those. The ones where he's got somebody he can throw to, you expect him to throw it. I'm sure the opinions in this room will vary dramatically, but do we want Gerard Wicks running with the ball or do we want Luke Falk? Who do we think would win in a race? Who do we think would be harder to tackle? Who do we think would be more elusive? Who do we think would be more likely to score? If you start to add it up that way, it becomes even more appealing to throw to Wicks or Harrington.

Q: What stands out about Wyoming on film?
ML: How hard they play. They're a very young group, so they're going to get better and better, but they play hard and I guess they've had some struggles with some quarterbacks getting knocked around. They play hard, they're well-coached but we're mainly concerned about ourselves and what we do and what we do this week.

Q: What could Kyrin Priester do to become more involved at receiver?
ML: I think he needs to relax, I think we've had a little too much on his plate and I think we just need to get him the ball more. As he gets some touches I think he'll take off and do really well.

Q: What was the biggest difference between week one and week two?
ML: Well, it was pretty dramatic. I mean, first of all we weren't hesitant. We might have been sloppy at times but we weren't hesitant. Week one we were hesitant, just constantly pressing and our tempo was slow as can be. Week two we played fast, weren't hesitant, sloppy at times but we did fly around.

Q: Is there a reason this team is more successful on the road?
ML: I don't know, it's a big question because we keep the routine pretty close, specifically close. Yeah, it's a good question. If you figure it out, tell me.

Q: What does River Cracraft do well?
ML: When he's consistent, when he's zeroed-in and consistent. The biggest thing is, if a guy does the same thing the same way, the same effort, all the time then he becomes a guy you can rely on and you can predict where he's going to be, and when. That predictability I think is really important because then there's no surprises. All of a sudden you run a play and it's like, OK, River will be exactly here. When he does that, then I think he's pretty good. When he plays consistently hard, does that and is where he's supposed to be. That's what allowed him to play early was that reliability. I didn't think in camp he necessarily had that to the extent that he had in the past and then I think the last couple weeks thought, he's become more reliable.

Q: Do you think these two games have been a lesson in the "Respect everyone, fear no one" mindset?
ML:  I don't think we adequately respected Portland State. I think we did going into the game. I think somewhere around halftime we expected it to be easy and when it wasn't, we panicked. The biggest thing is just to maintain a steady perspective. Your opponent really shouldn't count. If you have a standard of play, what's going to be important to you to accomplish to work toward, it really shouldn't mater who your opponent is, because your opponent is how much you can improve yourself from one play to the next.

Q: Darrien Molton must be doing a good job of adapting to college to play so early.
ML: He really is. He really has, and he did it early on. He's a real quiet guy, but just kind of goes about his business. Reminds me a lot of a guy I had, played in the NFL for years, a guy named Joselio Hanson … he played for us and left us and played in the NFL forever, mainly for the Eagles. HE was quiet like this guy and his guy was just never open, you know, his guy was never open. He played corner and yet he still had a knack for interceptions, he does remind me of Joselio and hopefully he turns out like him. The other impressive thing is, as a freshman, he really hasn't missed a beat. He just goes out there and plays and quietly secures his area.

Q: Is he at the top of the cornerback depth chart?
ML: Yeah, he is as far. For one of them, for sure.

Q: How much did you eliminate Falk's options this week?
ML: Well, we weren't really going to eliminate his options but we were just going to operate quicker and just kind of streamline things in the interest of being quick instead of elaborate. We did and I thought it did work out and I thought we could still improve on it.

Q: Thoughts on Deflategate?
ML: I think Deflategate's ridiculous, I think it's, you know, it's almost a byproduct of our country's obsession with political correctness. Let's take the most irrelevant possible issue we can think of and let's make a big deal of it because somebody might be offended. It doesn't matter to anything; it doesn't affect anything, and let's obsess over the irrelevant instead of the practical and worrying about what we're going to get accomplished. And I really think it's a byproduct of that. And, well, the thing that I've never gotten a satisfactory answer on Deflategate because, see, everybody uses their balls. It's not like you doctor up the ball, the other team has to use it for this drive so they're screwed. None of that happens. You're using your balls. And I've never gotten a satisfactory answer to this, it wouldn't surprise me a bit if they steal my idea, but what I think they ought to do is give every team empty balls. Just give them all empty NFL regulation footballs and then you fill them however you want. Some quarterbacks like it really tight, some like a little squeeze in it. The straight-ahead kicker likes a little air out of them, which there isn't many of those anymore, if there are any. And then of course the soccer-style guys like it full. It impacts the other aspects of your game and you can't personnel footballs, they're just going to be tossed-in or thrown out during the game. But you can fill them to any pressure you want, we don't care. Here's your empty footballs, you can fill them however you want, and then go paly. I don't know why anyone wouldn't do that. And everyone that I've ever said that to, and it's usually in the media, will give you a quizzical look, their face will get very confused, like, 'how can this be? What about the suspension?' Well, that's just my point. That's stupid. OK, 'Oh, ah, what about the trial?' Stupid, too. 'Ah, what about, well somebody thinks it's a big deal.' It's not. That's just one guy's opinion. I'm sure I'm probably wrong because after all, there was a trial and the heinous crime, and then, let's be honest. I can't help but wonder if the Patriots are paying for past sins a little bit because, you know, the NFL kind of expects aggressive cooperation, they perhaps didn't feel like they got it. Whether that's true or not, I don't know. But how much a football should be filled, I can't fathom where it would make a difference and I think everybody should fill them to whatever pressure they want to fill them and then everybody should take comfort knowing those footballs are regulation NFL footballs and everybody's using the same NFL footballs, plus they're using their own, and if you don't like them then you can fill your footballs differently then the other guys fill theirs. Because those balls don't stay the same pressure, anyway. If I punt the hell out of the ball or the valves different and jacks some of the air out, well the ball's different. And then all of a sudden we're not sitting there panicking over that. So the whole thing's absurd.

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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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