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Williams’ hurdle was a crowd favorite, but Washington State coaches condemn it

Washington State running back James Williams (32) runs after the catch against Montana State in the season opener. Williams made fans “ooh” and “ahh” with a hurdle in the first half, but coach Mike Leach said he condemns such tricks that can leave a player vulnerable in the air. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)
Washington State running back James Williams (32) runs after the catch against Montana State in the season opener. Williams made fans “ooh” and “ahh” with a hurdle in the first half, but coach Mike Leach said he condemns such tricks that can leave a player vulnerable in the air. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)

PULLMAN – Even if it makes for a nice addition to the highlight tape, hurdling can leave a player vulnerable in the air and Washington State coach Mike Leach would prefer his skill players find another way to win a one-on-one battle in the open field.

The question posed to Leach during Monday’s press conference was of course in reference to the acrobatic move James Williams pulled off in Saturday’s game, leaping up and over multiple Montana State defenders to pick up a few more yards at the end of an 8-yard gain.

The fans loved it. The coach didn’t.

“First of all, I think it exposes you in a fashion that’s necessary,” Leach said. “The other thing is, the landing on those things are fairly brutal as well. … If you think about it, with rare exception – and there are exceptions – you get about as far as you would’ve if you lowered your pads and run through somebody.”

After one of his most productive nights in a WSU uniform, Williams, who rolled up 163 receiving yards and two touchdowns, in addition to 45 rushing yards, didn’t catch much flack about his hurdle. Running backs coach Jim Mastro also advises against it, but didn’t say anything immediately after the game.

There’s still a chance Williams gets an earful before the Cougars play next.

“I believe that if he lowers his shoulder and tries to split those guys,” Leach said, “he ends up in approximately the same place he ends up in the end.”

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