Dennis Simmons spills the beans on Leach

SPOKANE -- Mike Leach had a starring role in one cut up of game tape that no Washington State player or coach ever wants to be in, Cougar outside receivers coach Dennis Simmons told a gathering of fans this week in Spokane at the weekly Cougar Club luncheon.

Normally requiring a subscription, this recruiting article is free content. You can take out a Pass for a FREE 7-day test drive and become a subscriber in one of three ways -- monthly, 6 months or Annual. Click on the 7-day free trial button HERE for the various options, with the Annual Total Access Pass the most attractive in terms of price and perks.

"I will tell you this: in addition to having game film for our guys to look at on Sunday, we also have a penalty film that we show them and you don't want to be on that one," he said. "You can get on that film for any one of three things: making a poor decision, making a dumb play or play or being selfish."

Leach made the tape this week, Simmons noted, when asked about the unsportsmanlike conduct penalty the head coach drew in the game's waning moments.

Leach was protesting what appeared to be a highly questionable roughing the passer call on Cougar linebacker Eric Oertel. Between Oertel's penalty and then the one on Leach, Idaho was presented with a first-and-goal situation at the Cougar 2-yard-line.

Simmons quipped the conversation between Leach and the referee was like something out of the Oxford Debating Society rulebook.

When the yellow flag came out, though, Leach had secured himself a spot on the Cougs' tape-of-shame for being dumb, Simmons said.

SIMMONS ALSO TALKED WITH the Spokane faithful about the scoreboard he prefers watching during the course of a game. It's located on the Cougar sideline and called the "Rise Up Board."

"It's not that we don't want players to look up at the (real) scoreboard and celebrate what it says," he insists.

But the Rise Up Board is a better indicator about a team's momentum during a game, because it reflects how the team is playing in all three phases of the game: offense, defense and special teams.

Here's how it works: If the offense scores either a touchdown or a field goal, a point goes on the board. If the defense holds the opposing offense to three downs and a punt, another point goes up. If the special teams scores the PAT, stops the kickoff return team behind the 25-yard-line or returns a kickoff past the 25, gains more than 15 yards on a punt return or holds the opposition to few than 15, it gets a point. And so on.

"If you don't get a point, the board goes back to zero," Simmons said. "We want guys to check that board before they go out onto the field, and we want them to do everything they can to make sure the board reads one number higher when they come back."

As Simmons showed a variety of highlights from the win over Idaho, he emphasized how the Cougs had put together a string of successes that got the board to a game-high 17 points in the second quarter of the 42-0 victory.

There was the Deone Bucannon interception of a Chad Chalich pass in the first quarter, which put a 1 on the board.

That number became a 2 when Connor Halliday saw the Idaho secondary in man coverage and found Gabe Marks open 15-yards downfield with an open path to the end zone for a 43-yard touchdown.

The Vandals had to start their next possession at their own 14, which earned special teams a point to make the Rise Up Board read 3.

In other words, playing well isn't just a function of putting points on the real scoreboard. It's about making plays in every facet of the game. It was a common theme in each highlight Simmons dissected, be it the return specialist making the first would-be Idaho tackler miss ("Coach Leach likes to tell these guys that if you can't make this guy miss, you're not the right guy for the job," he said) or each receiver running the correct route to influence where defenders go on a given play.

"It's like what I tell receivers we're recruiting," Simmons explained. "You don't have to come in here and be a savior. You just have to come in, work hard and make yourself better and do your job. That's hard enough to do."

The Cougars hosted a number of high school prospects on official visits this past weekend and Simmons said that message resonated with them.

"We had a few of them that didn't want to go home," Simmons said. "That's what we want to hear."

AS FOR THIS SATURDAY'S GAME IN SEATTLE against Stanford, Simmons said the Cardinal look much like they did last year and the Cougars are preparing for them the same way they prepare for every opponent.

Simmons also said he appreciated the Cougar fans who filled Martin Stadium this past Saturday and those who will trek across the state for the game in Seattle.

"I want to tell you just how much we appreciate your support," Simmons said. "I know some of those games last year were pretty hard to watch, but we appreciate you sticking with us."

All Cougar fans are invited to the annual Seattle Tailgate on Saturday. This year marks our first Seattle gathering without hostess supreme Karlynn "Ma" Howard, who passed away earlier this year. About as generous a human being as there ever was. So this year will mark the start of the annual Karlynn "Ma" Howard Memorial Tailgater at CenturyLink. And we want you to be there! As always, cold refreshments, burgers, brats, dogs and tater salad will be in abundance. No charge -- just say you read CF.C religiously and you're good to go! Look for the banner somewhere near the intersection of 3rd Ave. S and Holgate, just south of Outdoor Emporium in the alley/general street parking area. Festivities should start around 3 p.m. and run till around 6.


Cougfan Top Stories