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Sports >  WSU football

Joint practices have become staple of NFL preseason. Washington State’s Mike Leach thinks they could also bring intrigue to college game

UPDATED: Wed., Aug. 15, 2018

WSU head coach Mike Leach coaches his team during practice on Friday, August 3, 2018, at Martin Stadium in Pullman, Wash. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)
WSU head coach Mike Leach coaches his team during practice on Friday, August 3, 2018, at Martin Stadium in Pullman, Wash. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)

PULLMAN – Joint training camps have become popular, highly-anticipated dates on the NFL’s preseason calendar. Mike Leach thinks something similar could also spice up the college game.

The Washington State coach has advocated for mixed practices between college programs within the same geographical footprint – perhaps scrimmages and preseason games, too – and made his case again Wednesday afternoon following the Cougars’ 11th preseason practice in Pullman.

Leach thinks it would be one way to break up the monotony of fall camp, which pits offensive and defensive teammates against each other for an entire month before they’re able to whack somebody in a different-colored jersey.

“It’d be awesome,” Leach said. “You get one of the other universities up the road and have a mixed practice, I think that’d be a great deal. I don’t even know a scrimmage or even a preseason game, too – that’d be fine, but just mix it up as far as one-on-one versus them, (skeleton) versus them, team (period) versus them. Just variety and I think the variety would be good for both teams.”

The Cougars are holding 24 practices throughout the month of August before they open the season on Sept. 1 against Wyoming. Often by week two or three, players become restless hitting and blocking their own kind.

In recent years, NFL teams have enlivened their preseason routine by practicing against one another for weeks at a time. Currently, the Detroit Lions are hosting the New York Giants, the Denver Broncos and Chicago Bears are mixing it up in Colorado, while the Baltimore Ravens and Los Angeles Rams recently spent a few days together at the Ravens’ facility.

Opponents of Leach’s idea might point to injuries that may be sustained or fights that may break out in what undoubtedly would be a higher-intensity practice environment. But Leach contends the enthusiasm would only be a positive and players could learn a thing or two from seeing different schemes and playing styles.

“Part of it is just the energy,” Leach said. “You get excited about, plus you learn something from the other guy. If you defend another guy or a different guy, he’s got some qualities that are different, that are better. Some defender on you, he does some good things. You learn as you go.”

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