Leach remains encouraged despite struggles

IT HAS NOT quite lived up to the hope of providing Washington State fans their first bowl since 2003. But coach Mike Leach said during his Tuesday Pac-12 football coaches teleconference that he is not discouraged about the state of the program as Washington State plays its final road game of the season at noon Saturday at Arizona State (TV: Pac-12 Networks).

Leach attributed some of the Cougars' struggles to youth. He said WSU (2-8 overall, 0-7 conference) has played 15 freshmen this season.

"We've got a lot of young players who are emerging and doing well," Leach said. "We've had some growing pains. I think anytime young players are growing it's a pretty good experience."

CF.C asked Leach about some of the freshmen on scout team who could make an impact next season. The Cougars have allowed a Football Bowl Subdivision-worst 46 sacks, and Leach immediately cited the offensive line as a position where some of the program's youth can compete for playing time and starting jobs next season. He mentioned University High graduate Joe Dahl, Denzell Dotson and Eduardo Middleton specifically.

Leach did not name players on the defensive side, but said he likes the young talent on the line.

In addition to those positions, Leach also said he is hopeful that some players in the upcoming recruiting class will be able to contribute.

As far as the Sun Devils (5-5, 3-4) are concerned, Leach said "they have a lot of quick, explosive players" on both sides of the ball. Among them is senior running back Cameron Marshall. The Cougars contained him last year during their 37-27 win against ASU, and he has been held to 57 yards or less during the Sun Devils' four consecutive losses.

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