Leach discusses WSU's defensive woes

DEFENSE HELPED CARRY Washington State through a successful September, but that unit has struggled in recent weeks and the Cougars have lost three consecutive games.Mike Leach talked about his team's defense and its struggles to defend mobile quarterbacks during his Tuesday Pac-12 coaches teleconference.

WSU (4-5 overall, 2-4 Pac-12), which has fallen to 102nd among Football Bowl Subdivision programs in total defense, has struggled to contain Oregon's Marcus Mariota and Arizona State's Taylor Kelly in recent blowout losses. The Cougars allowed 557 yards during last week's 55-21 loss against the Sun Devils and 719 yards Oct. 19 at No. 2 Oregon.

"We've looked like a lot of other teams that have played those guys, which is disappointing," Leach said.

WSU's starting linebackers, junior Cyrus Coen, sophomore Darryl Monroe and senior Justin Sagote, were criticized by fans and analysts afterward for taking poor angles and general ineffectiveness against ASU. Only Sagote, who had seven tackles, seemed to make any impact. Monroe, it appears, has been fighting injuries (WSU doesn't release injury information.) Leach, meanwhile, had a different perspective on the Cougars' struggles.

"We would get to the that position and we hesitated," Leach said. "They've been preying on a lot of teams that have done that."

The team now has a The Cougs are in a bye week and looking to get a handle on some of those issues before WSU plays at 11 a.m. PT, Nov. 16 at Arizona (TV: Pac-12 Networks). While Wildcats' quarterback B.J. Denker does not possess Mariota or Kelly's accuracy, he is mobile. Denker has rushed for 563 yards and 11 touchdowns on 105 carries. His running back, Ka'Deem Carey, arguably is the best RB in the conference. Carey has rushed for 1,072 yards and 10 touchdowns on 188 carries.

"They're different, but they present some of those challenges," said Leach, when asked about Arizona compared with Oregon and ASU.

While most of the questions were focused on the defensive side of the ball, Leach also was asked about quarterback Connor Halliday's comments after the team's loss against the Sun Devils. Halliday, who completed 29 of 54 passes for 300 yards, two touchdowns and an interception, said among other things that his receivers struggled against ASU's press coverage.

Leach agreed.

"You've got to be violent with your hands and create separation," he said.

Cougs return to the practice field Thursday. They have Friday off, and then practice again Saturday and Sunday.

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