FROM NFL FILM to Oregon, Washington State coach Mike Leach was asked a hodgepodge of questions during his Pac-12 coaches teleconference Tuesday morning as the Cougars prepare to face California at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Martin Stadium (TV: Pac-12 Networks).
Leach never has coached in the NFL, but said he sees aspects of the Air Raid scheme at the professional level. New England coaches have studied his system in the past. He sees aspects of his offense on screens and crossing routes.
Meanwhile, Leach's own offense has struggled for most of the season. WSU (2-4 overall, 0-3 conference) ranks ninth in the Pac-12 in total offense. Leach said he was hopeful the unit would play better up to now, but also expected some challenges.
"I knew there were going to going to be a lot of new faces who hadn't played a lot," he said. "I knew it would be a work in progress."
That also could apply to California (2-4, 1-2). But the Bears feature a different scenario as Jeff Tedford, who is in his 11th season, is the longest tenured coach in the conference. Leach noted that Cal has the second most players in the conference playing in the NFL.
"I think they're a good team," he said. "I think it hasn't come together quite the way they expected, but they certainly are talented."
Oregon (6-0, 3-0) is the first Pac-12 team to reach bowl eligibility, but the Ducks have much loftier goals than that. Leach was asked how Oregon compares with other teams in the national championship race.
"I don't know that there is as physical as some teams in the conversation," he said. "If you're going to feature speed sometimes you will give up a little brute force."
Oregon State quarterback Sean Mannion suffered a knee injury that will sideline him indefinitely during Saturday's 19-6 win against the Cougars. Leach said he "didn't notice any drop off" in Mannion's play during the second half. He completed 25 of 42 passes for 270 yards and a touchdown, but was intercepted three times.
WSU athletic director Bill Moos announced last month that the Cougars will play a two-game series beginning in 2015 against Wyoming. Leach, who grew up in Cody, Wyo., said he had nothing to do with setting up that series.