Seen & Heard at Cougs' Fall Camp

PULLMAN – Mike Leach quickly established himself as a stern disciplinarian at Washington State by kicking four players, including three starters, off the team in the off-season. And Leach has definitely caught the attention of the remaining players. Plus, Travis Long and Xavier Cooper talk about what's new, John Fullington and Cooper are aiming high, Connor Halliday can move again and more.

"Leach has his rules," offensive tackle Fullington said. "He's pretty stiff on it. If you're not going to follow them, he's not going to let up. I support Leach and everything he's doing. I think it's going in the right direction.

"It's tough, losing those guys, just because they're teammates. But you've got to do what you've got to do without them and move on and continue to progress as a team."

FOURTH-YEAR JUNIOR CORNERBACK Nolan Washington certainly doesn't seem to have any problem with Leach or anybody else on the all-new coaching staff.

"We love 'em," he said. "They're just like us. They're very confident.

"They bring a new swagger to Cougar football. I think people will see that on Saturdays."

Asked about Leach's disciplinary measures, Washington said, "Leach isn't playing around. We've got to be all in or you get kicked off. "Now that he's put it in (stricter rules), our team is a lot closer."

ANY AND ALL doubts about Leach's celebrity status were erased when the Cougars announced that the Oct. 13 game with California will be Mike Leach Bobblehead Day at Martin Stadium.

About 10,000 bobbleheads are expected to be given away at the gates. The bobbleheads will not available for sale, a WSU spokesperson said.

SENIOR BUCK LINEBACKER Travis Long said the Cougars are "definitely" in the best shape in his four years on campus, thanks largely to increased running in the off-season.

"We're definitely a lot better, bigger, faster and stronger," fellow linebacker Eric Oertel said.

Long, a former three-year starter at defensive end, dropped 13 pounds to 245 to help him deal with his new pass-defense responsibilities as a Buck linebacker. He said the position switch has been "a pretty easy transition," though he worked hard on dropping back into pass coverage during summer workouts.

MEANWHILE, REDSHIRT FRESHMAN Xavier Cooper has added 20 pounds this offseason to beef up to 298, but the No. 1 right tackle in the Cougs' 3-4 said all the running helped him gain "good weight."

"My speed and quickness inside is still the same," Cooper said. "In fact, it's even better."

COLLEGE ATHLETES are taught to have a win-it-all mindset, and Fullington and Cooper held nothing back when asked about the Cougars' goals.

"I'd like to go undefeated -- we like to set our goals high," Fullington said.

"Our goal is a bowl game and one day play for a national championship," Cooper said.

THIRD-YEAR SOPHOMORE quarterback Connor Halliday has been showing off that rocket arm of his after being forced to sit out most of spring ball when he aggravated the lacerated liver he suffered late last season.

"In spring ball, I was putting on a pretty good front," Halliday said. "I was having trouble just walking around. I feel great now."

AS REPORTED EARLIER this spring and summer on CF.C, walk on offensive linemen Joe Kaleta and Zack Johnson left the program. Kaleta is at Coastal Carolina and Johnson settled at Eastern Washington.

Coastal Carolina and EWU play in the Football Championship Subdivision (formerly NCAA Division I-AA). WSU's home opener is against Eastern Washington on Sept. 8.

A LARGE CONTINGENT of WSU football fans made up part of an overflow crowd that shared plenty of laughter and a few tears Friday at the memorial for longtime Idaho Vandals broadcaster Bob Curtis.

Curtis broadcast some WSU games early in his career, but he was best known as the voice of Idaho football and/or basketball from 1957-2004. He died July 25 at his Colfax ranch and farm at the age of 87.

Pullman mayor Glenn Johnson, Idaho football coach Robb Akey and Keith Gilbertson were among those on hand. Gilbertson's son, David, is a junior quarterback at WSU.

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