Washington St prepares to play BYU on Thursday
New Washington State football coach Mike Leach declined to
reveal Tuesday whether veteran Jeff Tuel or sophomore Connor
Halliday will start in Thursday night’s season opener at BYU.
”Both are playing really well,” Leach said. ”They both are
very similar in how they play.”
The depth chart for the game lists either Tuel or Halliday
Leach said last Saturday that if the game were to be played that
day, Tuel would start. Tuel also took the majority of reps with the
first team during training camp.
Tuel threw for 2,780 yards with 18 touchdowns as a sophomore,
the one season he stayed healthy. He missed most of last season
with a shoulder injury. Halliday stood out as his replacement until
a lacerated liver ended his season.
Leach won’t be rotating both quarterbacks.
”I can’t think of very many people who have done a good job of
that,” Leach said. ”With rare exceptions, I can’t think of many
teams that were very good at it.”
Quarterbacks need to get into the rhythm of a game, and they see
and evaluate the field better as a game goes on, he said.
Leach sat out the past two seasons after he was fired at Texas
Tech, and the game at BYU, which is his alma mater, marks a return
to the sidelines.
He has admitted being a bit nervous about being rusty.
”I’m anxious about the first game too,” Leach said.
To prepare, Leach called plays from the sidelines during
practices to simulate game situations.
Leach said he has seen plenty of film of BYU.
”We’ve watched 13 games’ worth, to the point where we’re really
not interested in seeing blue Cougars,” Leach said. ”We’re only
interested in seeing red Cougars.”
This being the eclectic Leach, he also has admitted to being
impressed by the surfing skills of BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall.
”Probably one of the more interesting things about Bronco is
that he’s a really good surfer, and so getting some points of view
from him on that subject is interesting,” Leach said. ”Bronco’s
an interesting guy and does a lot of interesting things. I’d be
more interested in talking to him about surfing than football at
Leach took Texas Tech to 10 bowl games in his 10 seasons before
he was fired in a controversy involving a player with a concussion.
He was hired by WSU last November to replace the fired Paul
Leach said the offensive line has shown the most improvement
since he has been with the Cougars.
”I think it’s also the area where we had the most room to
grow,” Leach said. ”We’ve got a lot of really young guys, kind of
young unsung guys that I didn’t know that we necessarily would be
talking about that are in the mix.”
Washington State went 9-40 in four seasons under Wulff,
including 4-8 last year. Long-suffering fans have heaped
expectations on Leach, with many hoping the Cougars qualify for a
bowl game this season.
”I think that we’re pretty capable,” Leach has said. ”I think
our players had a really dedicated offseason, worked incredibly
”But the whole `where are we at?’ I don’t know,” Leach said.
”I wish I could tell you.”