Coug players react after meeting Leach

PULLMAN – Mike Leach has a reputation as a man who likes to have fun, but who also realizes that it requires volumes of hard work from coaches and players to succeed on the football field. Judging from their first meeting with Leach, Washington State players say their new coach's reputation is an accurate one.

"He seems like a pretty organized guy," defensive end Travis Long said after Mike Leach's first team meeting Tuesday afternoon. "I can tell he's ready to go."

"He met my expectations," safety Tyree Toomer said. "I like his personality, how he comes off. He's not real uptight and serious, but when it's time to get serious, I can see he knows when to crack down."

Quarterback Jeff Tuel agrees with Toomer.

"He can be laid back, but real straightforward," Tuel said. "Just straight to the point, which I like."

"Something he really harped on," Long said, "was just how the new coaches that may be coming in and all of us players, we need to move ahead with his plan, how we need to do it together. Otherwise, it's not going to be successful."

Long said Leach told players there "may be players changing positions, changing their roles. He said, ‘If you're a football player and you're athletic, you'll have a place on the field.'"

One Cougar certain to have "a place on the field" is star wide receiver Marquess Wilson. Six of Leach's 10 Texas Tech teams led the nation in passing, and Wilson is well aware that top NFL receivers Wes Welker and Michael Crabtree played for Leach at Tech.

"I like him a lot," Wilson said. "He's a great coach. He's going to come in here being able to make us even better as a team."

"Obviously, a quarterback likes to throw the football," Tuel said. "They should, and I definitely do, and I plan on doing it and doing it well."

Many of the Cougars were strong supporters of Wulff and his assistant coaches. However, Tuel said he realizes that firings and hirings are part of college football.

"You've just got to move on," Tuel said. "The quicker you move on, the quicker we get acclimated to the new coaching staff, the quicker we're going to be a better football team."

"Everybody has a clean slate," Toomer said. "It's kind of like you're starting all over again. You have to prove your worth and what you can do. That's why this off-season is going to be vital for a lot of players."

Leach, a colorful sort, has drawn uncommon amounts of national publicity to Washington State. ESPN's "SportsCenter" ran highlights from his Tuesday press conference, which drew 1,300 people in the student union building, with another 300-400 turned away with no room to spare.

"I was like, ‘Wow!,'" Toomer said. "I didn't realize that many people were in town!"

As impressive as Tuesday's crowd was, Toomer wants to see about 30 times that many fans at each of WSU's home games next fall.

"All the hype and buzz around; we feel it," Toomer said. "I mean, we wish it was the 2012 season already."

MIKE LEACH MET with the Cougar players on Tuesday. So what all did they talk about?

"Basically he broke down some of his goals for the team and what he expects from us," Tyree Toomer said.

And, said Travis Long, Jeff Tuel, Marquess Wilson and Toomer, there was no gray area, no muddled message, coming from Leach.

"He seems like a real straight forward guy and he really got to the point," Tuel said. "He was straight to the point on how things were going to be and what he expects from us -- and I liked that. I thought the reaction from the guys was that we're excited. We're hungry, we're ready to work and we're ready for that leadership."

"He just seemed like a pretty straight forward guy," Long said. "He's going to tell you how he feels. He expects a lot from his players and a lot of effort. You have to follow his rules or you're not going to fit in."

"It was great," Wilson. "To see him for the first time and actually get to hear him speak felt good knowing that he was a straight forward coach. He knows what he wants to do and how he's going to do it It's going to be great being able to play for him."

Leach's impact was such that even a defensive guy like Long was talking offense.

"I want to get some wins out of this next season," Long said. "I think he can help us do that and I'm excited to watching his offense put some points up on the board."

"I'm excited," Toomer said. "I feel like you kind of got the feeling after the season a change was going to take place and the fact that we got the best coach out there added a lot of excitement. Everyone's excited about this next season.

"Everybody knows the resume he brings to the table. He wins. That's what we've been trying to do here and that's what we're looking forward to doing."

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