Mike Leach explains what's changed since calling out his team's toughness

Posted by: Chris Vannini on Monday October 10, 2016


In 2015, Washington State opened with a loss to an FCS team and started 3-2, en route to a 9-win season. In 2016, WSU opened with a loss to an FCS team and is now 3-2 after back-to-back wins over Oregon and Stanford. How do they turn it around?

It was only a month ago that Mike Leach said his team’s toughness level was pathetic. So what’s changed since then? The team responded.

“Just hard work and everybody working hard and pulling together,” Leach said after the 42-16 win at Stanford. “I think there's a point where everybody's got to be brutally honest with each other, coaches and players, what everybody's doing. Because coaches and players as well, I don't think we were as focused as we could have been. I don't think we coached details as well as we could have. I don't think we absorbed details as well as players as we could have. Just focusing.

"The quick answer is everybody focused on doing their job. Just do your job, and do it over and over. ‘This is just practice.’ Hell with that. We don't care if it's just practice. You do it now. Then if we don't do a good job doing our job, then coaches step in. But now we're to the point where players are stepping in, so it elevates the whole thing, because everybody's committed, not just to doing their job, but everybody doing their job together.”

For the second week in a row, the rushing game was a big part of the win, which is very unlike Leach. But the Cougars won in the trenches, holding Stanford to 2.3 yards per rush and averaging 3.4 themselves.

Wazzu had 30 rushes and 41 passes. A balanced attack from Leach? Sort of. Three different backs had at least 7 carries. To Leach, balance isn’t run and pass, it’s spreading the ball around to skill players.

I don't view balance as number of runs. I view balance as contributions by all the skill positions,” he said. “So to achieve balance is to make sure all of the skilled positions are contributing to the offensive effort, whether it's through the air or on the ground.”

The Cougars host UCLA this Saturday.

Chris Vannini is in his fifth year with CoachingSearch.com and serves as its managing editor. He has previously written for the Detroit Free Press, The Oakland Press, The State News, MLive.com, 247Sports and SB Nation.  A graduate of Michigan State University, Chris now lives in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.  Be sure to follow @coachingsearch and send emails to chris@coachingsearch.com.