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WSU football chat (transcript)

Sep 14 2016, 10:22 AM

srchat: Submit questions now for our 10 a.m. WSU football chat.

Sep 14 2016, 11:00 AM

srchat: Hi, this is Jacob Thorpe signing in. Thanks for joining our WSU football chat.

Sep 14 2016, 11:00 AM

srchat: So... what do you all want to talk about?

Sep 14 2016, 11:00 AM

Guest2225 (guest): Is this season already toast before Pac12 play even started? I feel like we have so many more issues than last year and its very frustrating especially when the expectations were supposed to be much higher.

Sep 14 2016, 11:03 AM

srchat: I can certainly see why it feels that way, guest. An 0-2 record sure isn't a pretty sight in the standings, and a lot of bad off-the-field news all seems to be coming in at once. For those looking ahead, the Oregon, @Stanford, UCLA, @ASU stretch looks brutal. But let me walk you back from the ledge a bit.

Sep 14 2016, 11:04 AM

srchat: The Cougars have only lost one game they should be reasonably expected to win. While the offense has had more issues than you might have expected -- the reasons you expected a lot from them still existed. The defensive front seven has been concerning, but Alex Grinch is a good coach and the defense looked a lot better against BSU. If you thought the team was going to win nine games, they still can, they just need to upset one team they otherwise would have lost to and make up for the EWU loss.

Sep 14 2016, 11:05 AM

Ray Lancaster: Coach Leach is sounding unhinged! I know this puts you in a bad spot but what the heck is happening?

Sep 14 2016, 11:05 AM

Sid (guest): What do you think of Leach calling out the PPD? Did he rip the team to hard and started to loose them and this his way of getting them back? Sticking up for them?

Sep 14 2016, 11:05 AM

Guest2563 (guest): Do you think maybe the last 48 hours from Leach is a some kind of ploy to get the team to harden up a bit and give them some kind of "us against the world" mindset?

Sep 14 2016, 11:09 AM

srchat: I think all theories are valid. Leach called his players out on Monday, and it probably was not a bad idea to show them he has their backs on Tuesday. I am sure Leach feels somewhat put in a corner by the arrests and if he also thinks his team is being treated unfairly then perhaps he can change that with some grandstanding. I'm not sure Leach agrees with the common standard that players are public figures when it comes to the media, let's put it that way.

Sep 14 2016, 11:11 AM

srchat: As for police, well, if he truly thinks the PPD is targeting football players, then he's basically obligated to say so. Yesterday Leach ticked off the three major incidents and asked why in each only football players were arrested. I would be interested to hear the chief of police do the same thing, because police spokespeople have not responded when I asked if non-players have or would be charged.

Sep 14 2016, 11:12 AM

Guest3869 (guest): Any update on beer sales for this weekends game?

Sep 14 2016, 11:13 AM

srchat: I'm sure you can find a fellow Coug to give you some free beer in the parking lots. If you want to drink any outside beverages in the stadium, however, you better bring a plastic flask and some tape.

Sep 14 2016, 11:15 AM

Guest5102 (guest): Thanks for all your hard work covering the cougs! Hypothetically, if Tago couldn't play at any point in the future, who would back up Hanser? If you can't answer,I totally understand

Sep 14 2016, 11:16 AM

srchat: Based on the fact that the Cougars have already gotten him some reps in games, I think they'd like Derek Moore to be ready to contribute if either Logan Tago or Dylan Hanser could not play.

Sep 14 2016, 11:16 AM

CougSchroed (guest): Jacob, great coverage this year. You are killing it! In your opinion, where does our offense need to improve to score more points? Specifically a red zone issue by missing fg's and not converting 4th downs? Line between winning and losing is very thin.

Sep 14 2016, 11:18 AM

srchat: Thanks, Shredder. Another reporter asked Leach about communication issues on offense and, while Leach didn't think it was an issue, I saw a few offensive breakdowns when I watched the taped broadcast that seemed to indicate players really weren't on the same play. In one instance, Falk checked into a run but did not communicate that to the wide receivers, so none of them blocked and the BSU defense teed off on the running back, nailing him in the backfield.

Sep 14 2016, 11:19 AM

srchat: I also think Luke Falk has to be more willing to throw passes to receivers who are not necessarily wide open, trusting that Gabe Marks, Tavares Martin, etc. are going to usually beat defensive backs for 50/50 balls. That will probably lead to a slightly lower passing percentage and a few more interceptions, but didn't the offense look better in the second half when Falk started throwing deep?

Sep 14 2016, 11:22 AM

Guest2156 (guest): would love to see the target stats for WR. seems like inside WR are not getting the ball much

Sep 14 2016, 11:24 AM

srchat: That has always been the case, to a point. Typically the Z gets the most targets, the X gets the next most. Then Y. Then H. When Vince Mayle played X, then he got the most balls, but that was atypical. However, I do think Connor Halliday threw more passes to the Y than Luke Falk does, a function of his being more willing to throw the ball into traffic. River Cracraft wasn't always open in the classical sense when Halliday hit him for all those third-down conversions, but he's really good in traffic.

Sep 14 2016, 11:26 AM

Guest769 (guest): Based on how the first two games have gone, what's your updated prediction on how the Cougs finish the season?

Sep 14 2016, 11:28 AM

srchat: Right now, with an 0-2 record and seemingly a lot of tension around the program, it feels like a 5-7 kind of year. That said, if/when they get a few touchdown win over Idaho heading into the bye, it will probably feel more like a 7-5 kind of year. That's also taking into account that teams I had them beating like @Colorado and Washington look tougher than I predicted. I'll split the difference and say 6-6.

Sep 14 2016, 11:30 AM

CougSchroed (guest): Do you think Coug fans, in general, are freaking out way too much? A few plays here and there and the Cougs are 2-0, the public perception of Leach is that he sticks up for his guys while also not letting them get complacent.

Sep 14 2016, 11:32 AM

srchat: It depends on what they're expectations were at the start of the season. For Coug fans who wanted a playoff trip, they're probably not freaking out enough. For fans who just went through a decade without a bowl trip, they're probably freaking out too quickly. But I also get that it's hard to spent 8 months building up to what seems like it's going to be a great year and then have a rocky start.

Sep 14 2016, 11:32 AM

Guest2563 (guest): Expecting WSU to be playing (and coaching) very angry this weekend. Do they score more or less than 70 points?

Sep 14 2016, 11:33 AM

srchat: I think so. I can see a world where Idaho gets an early score or turnover and the Cougars tense up, but I think most likely they take out their frustrations on an overmatched team and the starters stay in a little longer than they otherwise would because Leach wants a big win heading into the bye.

Sep 14 2016, 11:33 AM

cubsfan7331: Kaleb Fossum has been a bright spot on punt returns. Seems to know when to run and when to fair catch. When he does run not much dancing just straight up the field. Would like to see him get more chances on kick returns. Martin is getting too predictive. Runs to wedge which collapses, ball at the 20. The RB's looked less than aggressive, is it time to think about Harrington back into the mix?

Sep 14 2016, 11:34 AM

srchat: A couple different points here, so I'll answer them in turn.

Sep 14 2016, 11:35 AM

srchat: I agree that Fossum has done very well at punt return. He has the most important ability, which is being able to make the first tackler miss while simultaneously finding a lane and sticking to it. But the skills for kickoff return are fairly different. The most important part of a kickoff return is being able to get to the 25-yard line before the defense. All that is is straight-line speed, and Martin has much more than Fossum.

Sep 14 2016, 11:36 AM

srchat: I sort of disagree on the running backs. I think Morrow has looked good and I think the coaches are excited to keep giving James Williams more touches. While Wicks is a big body and runs "hard" I think he goes down quicker on contact than the coaches would like.

Sep 14 2016, 11:37 AM

srchat: But no, I don't expect to see Harrington back at running back.

Sep 14 2016, 11:37 AM

Guest4504 (guest): Mitchell looks like a load. seems he could fit in somewhere on the d line. slow feet ugh to

Sep 14 2016, 11:38 AM

srchat: Mitchell's problem is he just doesn't really fit what WSU is trying to do defensively. The coaches looked at their personnel this year and decided the best play was to emphasize speed. Mitchell has some ability, but he's not a speedy guy.

Sep 14 2016, 11:39 AM

Guest4504 (guest): was surprised on the last throw from falk. thought he had a stronger arm. we're you surprised?

Sep 14 2016, 11:40 AM

srchat: I don't think Falk really got his feet under that throw. I don't know that he could hit the end zone from that distance, but I'm sure he could have gotten it farther than the 20 if his feet were set.

Sep 14 2016, 11:40 AM

Guest4504 (guest): I agree morrow gets better, Williams looks as good as advertised

Sep 14 2016, 11:41 AM

Guest769 (guest): What do you think is the biggest issue the team needs to fix in order to turn this thing around?

Sep 14 2016, 11:42 AM

srchat: Communication, leading to cohesiveness. Considering how many players return on offense, it's been a little shocking how the players frequently don't appear to be on the same page. The defense's communication breakdowns -- particularly against EWU -- are pretty well documented.

Sep 14 2016, 11:42 AM

cubsfan7331: Was the journalist that asked the question about the last play a WSU beat writer or from the Statesman, etc, and did he ask any more questions?

Sep 14 2016, 11:43 AM

srchat: I think he was running quotes for a local organization and I believe had been told to ask the question. Probably because earlier in the day Central Michigan had won on a Hail-Mary-Lateral play and he or his editors were trying to play on that theme.

Sep 14 2016, 11:43 AM

Guest4504 (guest): River does not look the same as he did in year 1 and 2. is he banged up or was Connor more likely to throw his way?

Sep 14 2016, 11:44 AM

srchat: I think Connor was more likely to throw his way. Luke goes through his reads quickly -- not necessarily a bad thing at all -- and gets off receivers if they aren't clearly open. That's why he so often throws to the check down. Halliday was more likely to see Cracraft and think "I can rifle this in there and it's his job to catch it" and usually, Cracraft could.

Sep 14 2016, 11:44 AM

Guest7068 (guest): Prediction for Saturday?

Sep 14 2016, 11:44 AM

srchat: Will be online shortly!

Sep 14 2016, 11:44 AM

cubsfan7331: Was that the worst postgame "press room" you have been in? Cougs traveled very well to this game. Joke was we were so high up in the stands we could see Pullman from our seats.

Sep 14 2016, 11:46 AM

srchat: Are you talking about the room itself? Actually, a lot of schools including Oregon and Stanford have the interviews outside the locker room like that. Stanford was the worst, by far, because there were fireworks going off throughout. We were basically unable to do postgame interviews that day.

Sep 14 2016, 11:46 AM

Guest4504 (guest): Molton looks very good. best cover corner I have seen for sometime any freshman corners looking the same?

Sep 14 2016, 11:47 AM

srchat: Marcus Strong looks good and could see the field this week. I think D'Jimon Jones also has a bright future.

Sep 14 2016, 11:47 AM

Guest6644 (guest): Any read on the focus of the team with all the off field distractions going on

Sep 14 2016, 11:48 AM

srchat: My guess is basically as good as yours. The three players we talk to on Monday all say they're focused. But who knows, really? If they come out and lose to Idaho, or barely beat the Vandals, then they're probably not very focused.

Sep 14 2016, 11:48 AM

Guest7068 (guest): Might be my imagination, but it seems like Falk has been less willing to use his legs to scramble a bit. Not that he ever did it a lot, but have you noticed this as well or am I just imagining it?

Sep 14 2016, 11:49 AM

srchat: I've noticed it over time. Seems to me that when Falk was a redshirt freshman starting against Oregon State he was a lot quicker to scramble than he is now.

Sep 14 2016, 11:49 AM

Guest4504 (guest): thoughts on rypien ? no question he has a strong arm quick release story last week was about bsu and offense they ran. no one mentioned that maybe he thought he could never beat out falk.

Sep 14 2016, 11:50 AM

srchat: He's clearly got some talent but I thought the WSU defense got the better of him for the most part, getting three interceptions and a lot of his yards came thanks to Sperbeck's hard work. I'm sure he wanted to get on the field right away -- his two final choices were supposedly UW and BSU, both schools that started true freshman QBs last year.

Sep 14 2016, 11:51 AM

Jeremy Brown: I didn't see Harrington on the sideline Saturday. How are things going for him at practice?

Sep 14 2016, 11:51 AM

srchat: He's not getting a ton of reps.

Sep 14 2016, 11:53 AM

Guest4504 (guest): darn on Harrington such an impact player last year. tough kid

Sep 14 2016, 11:53 AM

Sid (guest): Year 5 of Leach. How can his players and his team lack focus and communication? Didn't that see that in practice before the season?

Sep 14 2016, 11:54 AM

srchat: Improvement is not always linear. If it was, every team with a good coach would be competing for national championships by year five. Leach and Gabe Marks have been saying "this is not last year's team" since the beginning of fall camp, and it's probably time we listened to them.

Sep 14 2016, 11:54 AM

Guest7068 (guest): Thanks for all the work you do!

Sep 14 2016, 11:54 AM

srchat: Thanks, 7068. It's my pleasure.

Sep 14 2016, 11:55 AM

Guest4504 (guest): coug lb on hawks practice squad surprise you ?

Sep 14 2016, 11:56 AM

srchat: Kache Palacio? A little bit, mostly because he's playing a very different position than he did in college. Check out this story on it if you have not yet http://seattle.cbslocal.com/2016/08/29/former-wsu-standout-hopes-to-make-good-on-childhood-vow-to-carroll/

Former WSU Standout Hopes To Make Good On Childhood Vow To Carroll « CBS Seattle

Sep 14 2016, 11:57 AM

Guest4504 (guest): how is Cody performing ?

Sep 14 2016, 11:58 AM

srchat: I think he's done some really good stuff for a first-year starter. He had a great downfield block on Saturday that sprung a big gain.

Sep 14 2016, 11:58 AM

Sid (guest): I had high hopes for this team when I heard how much they all like each other and really feel like a team. That they would hold each other to a higher standard and not loaf. Sounds like there are still loafers on the team.

Sep 14 2016, 11:58 AM

srchat: Leach's comments have been to the effect that they are all nice guys, a good team, and work hard in practice, but that they struggle to realize that they need to work even harder in the games.

Sep 14 2016, 11:59 AM

Guest7068 (guest): Loved that block from Cody. Had to watch it a couple times

Sep 14 2016, 11:59 AM

Guest4504 (guest): does Dillard appear at this time able to protect luke we were spoiled with big joe. I think apple cup wo Dahl hurt a lot

Sep 14 2016, 11:59 AM

srchat: Frankly, I thought the pass protection on Saturday was as good as I've seen in three years covering the team. Falk had a lot of time in the pocket.

Sep 14 2016, 11:59 AM

srchat: That's all we have time for everybody. Thanks again for keeping up with all of our Cougars coverage. I'll have the full transcript up shortly.



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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