Leach gives strong indication on QB starter

WASHINGTON STATE COACH Mike Leach has not given any definitive answer when discussing his quarterback situation all season. But during his Monday teleconference, Leach gave a strong indication about which signal-caller will start at 3 p.m. Saturday at No. 14 Oregon State (TV: Pac-12 Networks). Leach also discussed Saturday's 51-26 loss against Oregon at CenturyLink Field and much more.

Sophomore Connor Halliday, who has completed 63 of 116 passes for 855 yards, eight touchdowns and five interceptions this season, is expected to make his third start of the season Saturday. That does not mean senior Jeff Tuel, who completed all four of his passes for 62 yards and a touchdown Saturday in his first action since suffering a knee injury Sept. 8 against Eastern Washington, won't start again this season.

"We'll see how it all plays out," said Leach, adding he is "pretty sure" Halliday will start against the Beavers.

"I think they're similar and both do some good things. Connor Halliday has given us a spark, so we've kind of stuck with him."

Leach, who did not play college football, said he reminds Halliday to make easy throws that even his coach could complete.

"He's trying to make too much happen on each play," Leach said.

He said the quarterbacks and wide receivers still need work to be synchronized in the Air Raid scheme.

"Improving, but we're not there," Leach said. "It's not as tight or automatic as it needs to be."

He said he likes to rotate eight wide receivers during the game to keep everyone fresh. One player who emerged against Oregon was senior Gino Simone, who had 65 yards on five receptions. Leach said Simone was inconsistent during spring practices and fall camp, but is playing well now.

"He was in the right place because he outworked and outhustled some people," Leach said.

Leach believes the Cougars (2-3 overall, 0-2 Pac-12) are improving each week, but will need to accelerate that process against the Beavers. Behind sophomore quarterback Sean Mannion, OSU is averaging 487.33 yards of total offense, which ranked 28th among Football Bowl Subdivision teams. Leach said the Beavers (3-0, 2-0) are not quite as difficult to prepare for as the Ducks because their offense is "more traditional."

"There's nothing easy about them," he said. "They're a good, solid football team."

LEACH SAID REVIEWING opponents' games now is easier than ever because it all is delivered digitally. He even has access to tape from teams such as Arizona and USC that WSU does not play this season. Leach said he will review those in the offseason when his time is not as limited.

He said that is much different than earlier in his career when teams were shooting and editing 16-millimeter film. He said some teams would not deliver film on time for a variety of reasons, and the ones that did might feature airplanes or "girls in the stands."

"You had some kid go up there and shoot and you didn't know what was going to come out," Leach said.

Because of the access his players have to game tape, he said he hopes they review it regularly. But Leach said NCAA rules prohibit him from placing mandates on how much time his players must spend watching opponents' games.

  • OSU arguably features the best pair of defensive ends in the conference in sophomores Scott Crichton and Dylan Wynn. The duo has combined for 20 tackles and four sacks in three games this season. Leach joked about taking the pair "out late" or even to Shanghai before Saturday's contest.

  • While he is not happy with how his team is playing during the third quarter — the Cougars were outscored 21-0 by the Ducks during that period Saturday — Leach likes how his team reacted during the final period.

    "There were plenty of people who were disappointed that the game was over, which I thought was a positive change," he said. "No one is satisfied with just a good showing."

  • Leach said the NCAA still has not ruled on whether Tuel, who was limited to three games last year because of a variety of injuries, will be granted a redshirt season. Because Tuel has not utilized a redshirt year, he could compete in 2013 if the NCAA grants his request.

    "I really think they ought to grant it," Leach said. "If they don't, they might as well get rid of the rule."

  • In the showdown between a pair of former Leach assistants at Texas Tech, Dana Holgorsen's West Virginia Mountaineers defeated Art Briles of Baylor, 70-63, on Saturday. Leach said he watched some of the game and particularly was impressed with WVU quarterback Geno Smith, who had more touchdown passes (eight) than incompletions (six).

    He said he still regularly talks with Holgorsen, who was a Leach assistant from 2000-07, and the two share ideas.

  • Leach had no update on senior offensive lineman Dan Spitz, who has missed several weeks tending to "personal issues."

  • A reporter asked about the status of Washington High School graduate Jacob Tuivaiave, who did not meet eligibility requirements after signing in February. Leach said he cannot comment on recruitable athletes.

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