Simmons: Learning how to win is key for Cougs

SPOKANE – Washington State University's outside receivers coach, Dennis Simmons, told Cougar fans Monday at their weekly luncheon gathering that the WSU coaching staff is pleased with back-to-back wins over Eastern Washington and UNLV, but said they are looking for more.

"If you look at how long you train, you spend about 18 weeks getting ready for 11 opportunities to play (games)," he said. "You have to get the most out of those 11 opportunities."

The casual observer will never look back, at the end of the season, and say ‘we should have scored more points against UNLV," he explained.

But from a teaching standpoint, he stressed, the coaching staff looks at each game and points out where there were missed opportunities to do more, to do better.

"I think we DO have to learn how to win," Simmons said. "This team hasn't had a lot of success in the last four years. We have to learn how to maximize our opportunities. We're all held accountable."

Simmons, who spent 10 seasons with head coach Mike Leach at Texas Tech before rejoining him in Pullman, explained the program's approach to each phase of the game, and how tied together each phase is to the next.

"Going into every game we tell the players not to worry about the scoreboard," he said. "We want our players to play in unison in every phase of the game. We have a young football team and they haven't had a lot of success in their past."

Besides the socreboard in the stadium, Simmons said, is the "coaching scoreboard" on the sidelines. He explained it like this: When the defense makes a stop on third down, they earn a point. The offense takes over and scores, that adds a point. When special teams kicks an extra point, that adds a point.

If a unit fails to execute its function, that coaching scoreboard goes back to zero and the process starts all over.

"Historically, if you can get to 14 points (on the coaches' scoreboard), you're going to win the football game," Simmons said. "We're happy with where we're at. But at the same time, we do have expectations."

Talking specifically about his receiving corps, Simmons put the group's successes in context with their youth.

"This is a very young group," he said. "They haven't played a lot of college football. They're learning."

Athletic director Bill Moos opened the luncheon by encouraging fans to get to Martin Stadium early for Saturday's Homecoming game with Colorado.

"More importantly, we need you to stay," he said. "That Eastern Washington game was a lot closer at the end than we thought it would be and there weren't a lot of fans left there to see it. At UNLV we had 6,000 fans there and they made a difference for us at the end of that game.

"We need you to do your part to help build this program. We need you to help make a difference and give Martin Stadium a home field advantage. There'll be plenty of time to party after the game's over."

The 2-1 Cougars host 0-3 Colorado at 1 p.m. this Saturday in Pullman. The game will be televised on FX.

Meanwhile, ESPN announced that it will televise the Sept. 29 WSU-Oregon game in Seattle on either ESPN or ESPN2. Kickoff will be at 7:30 p.m.

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