Leach tackles a variety of WSU questions

HANDLING THE BYE WEEK. Defending the spread option. And assessing senior safety Deone Bucannon's rare skills. Those were among the variety of topics Washington State coach Mike Leach discussed during his Tuesday Pac-12 football coaches teleconference.

The Cougars (4-5 overall, 2-4 conference) have struggled to contain the spread option in recent games against Oregon and Arizona State. In the Cougars' 55-21 loss on Halloween against the Sun Devils, ASU quarterback Taylor Kelly passed for 275 yards and rushed for 66.

Arizona (6-3, 3-3), whom WSU plays at 11 a.m. Saturday, features a similar threat. Quarterback B.J. Denker does not possess Kelly's accuracy, but he has rushed for 645 yards and 11 touchdowns on 121 carries. And running back Ka'Deem Carey, who has 1,221 yards and 11 touchdowns on 216 carries, might be the best back in the Pac-12.

Leach said his team has been able to prepare for the Wildcats through previous opponents, such as Oregon and ASU, but noted that Arizona is a little different. He previously said coach Rich Rodriguez changes his offense's tempo more than Oregon, which constantly moves quickly.

In addition, wide receiver Austin Hill has been cleared to practice for Arizona, according to the Arizona Daily Star. Hill, who has been sidelined with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his knee, has not played since he caught eight passes for 175 yards and two touchdowns in the Wildcats' win over Nevada in last year's New Mexico Bowl.

"Good player," Leach said. "[He is] explosive, but the other guys are too."

One player WSU consistently has relied on to slow opposing offenses is Bucannon. He leads the Pac-12 in tackles (85) and is tied with Oregon State's Steven Nelson for first with five interceptions. Leach was asked about Bucannon's ability to effectively play against both the run and pass.

"First of all, he's a really good player," he said. "He's also really good at the line of scrimmage. He's a leader and [teammates] really draw from him."

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