"Well, we had meetings, we had film, we had a variety of things going on," Leach said. "And then part of it pushed forward because we had a lot of recruits in town."
As WSU (4-3 overall, 2-2 Pac-12) reaches the two-thirds point of the season at 7 p.m. Saturday at No. 2 Oregon (6-0, 3-0), Leach said he is looking to scale back practices in order to keep his team as fresh as possible. Even with the late start, Leach liked the result of Sunday's practice.
He said less is more at this point of the season when it comes to practice, and that it also is the best way to overcome the kinds of adversity that plagued the Cougars against the Beavers. In addition to a botched fake punt, WSU had six turnovers. Those errors helped OSU score the final 35 points of the game.
"We just have to keep playing," Leach said. "There's no magic formula."
THAT PARTICULARLY APPLIES to junior quarterback Connor Halliday, who completed 26 of 49 passes for 248 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions against the Beavers. Leach said he thought Halliday played "really well" for three quarters before throwing interceptions on three consecutive possessions.
"I think the biggest thing is he tried to make too much happen," said Leach, who replaced Halliday with redshirt freshman Austin Apodaca during the fourth quarter after the game was out of reach. "As explosive as he is, if you cut it that thin sometimes it blows up on you."
Leach, who said Halliday is not in danger of losing his starting job, also said the signal-caller has been hindered by not having an accomplished mentor. During Leach's 10 seasons at Texas Tech, he had a succession of successful quarterbacks.
"He doesn't have a model to follow," he said. "He has to set his own course.
"There certainly have been great quarterbacks here. Just not ones people have known as a person."
Leach said Halliday, who has completed 215 of 339 passes for 2,241 yards, 14 touchdowns and 13 interceptions this season, has to "just hang in there. You don't have a choice, really."
Halliday was not the only player who struggled down the stretch Saturday.
With the game tied at 24-all in the waning moments of the third quarter, an apparent fake punt by the Cougars led to things really getting out of hand.
But Leach felt the game's turning point occurred earlier in the second half. After WSU had opened the second half on a 14-0 run, OSU faced a third-and-10 from its own 28. Sean Mannion connected with tight end Caleb Smith on a 31-yard completion. OSU promptly went on to score to tie the game at 24-24.
"I thought it was key for us to stop them defensively there," said Leach, whose defense surrendered 496 passing yards and 598 yards of total offense.
Things only escalated from there.
"I think our team panicked," said Leach, adding that the Cougs regularly play 27 freshmen and sophomores. "One thing goes bad and everyone is looking at someone else to make a big play.
"We dominated the third quarter and all we needed to do was the same in the fourth quarter."
One reporter noted on Monday that sophomore safety Taylor Taliulu struggled in coverage. While Leach agreed, he said Taliulu is not the only member of the secondary who needs to improve.
"I think it's undisciplined eyes," he said. "The majority [of yards] are big, explosive plays. It's not play after play."
Leach said OSU's receivers went into motion more often that he they had shown on game tape, but that was not an excuse for undisciplined play.
"We just need to be quicker and more assertive adjusting to it," he said.