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Friday, February 28, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Leach anxious to see improvement from Cougars

PULLMAN—Mike Leach is growing impatient speed of Washington State’s improvement and although he sees the Cougars getting better, he wishes they would hurry up about it.

“I’d like the progress to be faster,” Leach said. “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.”

So while Leach repeatedly acknowledged that he saw a lot of positives from the Cougars during Saturday’s loss, his weekly Monday debriefing with the media focused mostly on the negatives.

The offensive line bore the brunt of the criticism.

“I didn’t think we played very consistently up front,” Leach said. “I think there’s been some positive publicity about our offensive line that currently doesn’t appear to be very justified.”

Quarterback Luke Falk was sacked seven times, costing the Cougars 35 yards. Leach laid responsibility for two of the takedowns at Falk’s feet, saying the quarterback held onto the football for too long on one play and did not roll out like he should have on a naked bootleg.

WSU gave up just five sacks in its first three games but Leach and offensive line coach Clay McGuire have previously hinted that the group was not yet playing up to their expectations.

“I think we’re the best offensive line in the conference,” left guard Gunnar Eklund said. “And I think all five of us have to believe that to be the best offensive line in the conference.”

Leach did say that the defense has shown steady, consistent improvement under first-year defensive coordinator Alex Grinch. The defense has not given up more than 28 points in any of WSU’s games, which by itself would likely be enough for the Cougars to be undefeated if the offense and special teams were improving at similar rates.

WSU opponents have scored three touchdowns on special teams plays in four games and the Cougars offense is averaging 28.3 points per game, 71st best among FBS teams.

Leach’s frustration in the lethargy with which the Cougars are improving this season was palpable and equally evident in the players who were made available for questions. The common theme was that WSU should be 3-1 right now and has only itself to blame for its 2-2 record.

“We left a lot of plays on the field that, if we make, the game’s not even close,” said running back Jamal Morrow.

“We should have run away with that one,” said Eklund.

Vernon Adams won’t play until he’s 100 percent

Oregon offensive coordinator Scott Frost hasn’t ruled out the possibility of playing Vernon Adams against Washington State this weekend, but it appears unlikely that the Eastern Washington transfer will be healthy enough to play the Cougars.

Adams was named UO’s starting quarterback prior to the start of the season, shortly after finishing up classes at EWU. A broken index finger sustained in UO’s opener against the Eagles has caused him pain throughout the season, and kept him out of the Ducks’ win over Colorado last weekend.

“It was really tough for me not playing, especially this is my senior year,” Adams is quoted as saying after Monday’s practice by the Eugene Register-Guard. “I got to be 100 percent before I can go out there.”

Homecoming kickoff time set

WSU’s Homecoming game against Oregon State on Saturday, Oct. 17, will kick off at 1 p.m., the Pac-12 announced on Monday. The school’s Homecoming theme this year is “Back to the Future,” because in the famous time-traveling movie, Marty McFly and his DeLorean travel forward in time 30 years, to October, 2015. Fans are being encouraged to dress up like their favorite character from the movie, and t-shirts will be given to the first 5,000 fans.

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