PULLMAN – On Monday, Washington State football coach Mike Leach clarified the nature of the injury quarterback Connor Halliday suffered during Saturday’s loss to USC, saying he broke “the whole ankle” before explaining that it was the fibula and tibia bones in Halliday’s right leg that were injured.
Halliday, the NCAA passing leader by a wide margin, was injured when USC defensive lineman Leonard Williams fell on his leg as the quarterback completed a pass in the first quarter of the 44-17 loss.
Leach did not know if Halliday would recover in time to participate in a pro day in front of NFL scouts this spring.
“Obviously, he’s upset,” said left tackle Joe Dahl. “It’s a tough time for him – it’s a tough time for all of us.”
Halliday remains in the hospital, where he has been visited by a steady stream of well-wishing teammates and coaches.
“I texted the boys last night (saying that) if when you come and talk to Connor it doesn’t motivate you, I don’t know what will,” linebacker Jeremiah Allison said.
“People started trickling in and there were probably at least 10 of us in the room; they had to start cycling us through,” Allison added. “But I’m stubborn so I stayed my time that I wanted to stay and then I shook his hand and gave him a hug and then left.”
Former WSU defensive end Travis Long had his career end due to injury in 2012 that caused him to miss the Apple Cup against rival Washington. Allison said that Long tried to call Halliday but the two were not able to connect.
Halliday finishes his WSU career with 11,304 passing yards and 90 passing touchdowns, both schools records.
It’s a rare football recruit who dreams of redshirting his freshman season. The itch to play early is strong, and can often play a factor in a prospect’s college decision. Well, plenty of WSU’s players are getting the chance to play in their first or second year on campus, but their coach doesn’t think they’re making the most of it.
“If they want to play as freshmen they need to go out and act like they belong there rather than some of this timid stuff we have going on,” Leach said.
“A guy comes in with his chest all puffed out and says, ‘I want to play as a freshman’ ” and then the guys that go out and get to play as freshmen, well then all of a sudden mentality-wise some of these guys play timid and get scared.”
So far 18 freshmen have played for the Cougars in 2014, including seven true freshmen. There has been a revolving door of freshmen at the field cornerback spot, with true freshman Pat Porter starting in place of injured redshirt freshman Charleston White.
The first score in each of WSU’s last two games – both losses – was a punt returned for a touchdown by the opposing team. The Cougars have given up three such scores, more than any other FBS team. Washington State also leads all FBS schools with three kickoffs returned for touchdowns by opponents.
Leach was asked during Monday’s press conference if he might consider having punter Jordan Dascalo try a rugby-styled punt, an end-over-end kick that is more difficult to catch and sometimes involves the punter running forward as he kicks.
The coach said that he’s amenable to the idea, but it isn’t something we’ll likely see in a game this season.
“We’ve messed with it a little in practice; it would be something we’d have to work at in the offseason,” Leach said. “Everyone remembers the good ones of those things. The bad ones are a mess. Some kid kicks it out of bounds or it goes about 15 yards. I mean, or it lines up perfectly to the return guy and there’s no airtime and coverage and the kid takes off.”
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