PULLMAN – One of the enduring images of the 2015 college football season is that of five Oregon assistant coaches running up and down the sideline with a huge sheet during the Ducks’ game against Arizona State, shielding the offense’s signals from the prying eyes of the Sun Devils.
Coaches from UO, Utah and Washington State accused ASU coach Todd Graham and his staff of going to extraordinary lengths to pilfer play calls before the snap. Mike Leach acknowledged that it is a concern heading into Saturday’s game at ASU.
“I’ve heard a lot of rumors of microphones to pick up extra sound, to sift and sort for sound, perhaps what the quarterback’s saying, “Leach said. “Close-up cameras, stuff like that. I don’t know if they (video tape) coaches on the sideline.”
Last year UO offensive coordinator Scott Frost, who is now the head coach at Central Florida, posited that the Sun Devils were mostly looking at their signals to determine whether a play was a run or a pass. That would not be very effective against the Cougars, who determine whether to run the ball at the line of scrimmage after seeing the defense’s alignment.
However, Leach very visibly signals formations and routes to quarterback Luke Falk from the sideline, so there is still a lot a defense could glean by breaking WSU’s enigma-like code.
If the Sun Devils do try to steal WSU’s signs, however, the Cougars will not be caught off guard. Leach would not divulge any sheet-like measures he might employ to keep his signs safe, but hinted that WSU will take some extra precautions against ASU.
“We’ll have to see, because that is a very unsavory practice that they have,” Leach said. “We’ll have to do what we can to defend ourselves against it. They’ll try to victimize you with some sign-stealing, there’s no question.”