WSU's Leach reflects on his coaching protégés

COACHING REUNIONS ALWAYS are a popular subject in the media and that was no different Tuesday morning as Washington State's Mike Leach was asked multiple questions about his protégé, California's Sonny Dykes. The two coaches face each other for the first time when the Cougars play at 1 p.m. Saturday at California (TV: Fox Sports 1).

Dykes, who is in his first season as the Golden Bears' coach, served as a graduate assistant under Leach at Kentucky and then worked on his staff again from 2000-06 at Texas Tech. California (1-3 overall, 0-1 Pac-12) is the only team with a losing record in the conference. Dykes spent the last three seasons at Louisiana Tech, where he compiled a 22-15 record.

"I'm proud of them that they've moved up and had good, quality careers," said Leach, referring to Dykes and others, such as West Virginia's Dana Holgorsen, who have served as assistants for him.

Leach was asked if he gets any satisfaction when he sees a former assistant using a play or scheme he taught that person, but he said he does not think about it. That does not mean Leach does not follow his colleagues, including Dykes.

"I see him off and on and talk with him off and on," Leach said. "I'm just glad things are going well for him."

Leach also was asked about the development of junior quarterback Connor Halliday, who has completed 148 of 223 passes for 1,472 yards, 10 touchdowns and nine interceptions this season. Halliday signed with former coach Paul Wulff's staff and has had to adjust to Leach's Air Raid system.

"I don't think a lot," said Leach, referring to how much Halliday has had to adjust. "He's just had to grow as a player."

Leach said earlier in the season that Halliday needed to improve his decision-making as multiple interceptions in the red zone began to surface. But for the most part, Leach said, he's happy with Halliday's development.

"He's just a really solid player," he said. "He's getting better all of the time. He's really explosive."

  • Stanford coach David Shaw, whose team defeated the Cougars 55-17 on Saturday at CenturyLink Field, said Tuesday that he cannot think of a conference that has more quality programs than the Pac-12. Unsolicited, Shaw praised WSU (3-2, 1-1), saying the Cougars are a team he thinks some might now underestimate after his undefeated fifth-ranked program blew out the Cougars. "Watch Washington State the rest of the year," he said. "They're a good football team."

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