Not a normal Sun. practice for bowl-bound WSU

PULLMAN -- The Cougars practiced like they normally would on Sunday, but there was some extra electricity in the air at the indoor practice bubble. Indeed, the Cougar players were buzzing about bowling. At the time, no one knew for certain it would be the New Mexico Bowl, though it seemed highly likely. And the players were acting like kids scrambling around the tree on Christmas Eve.

With bowling on the brains of virtually everyone at practice, the Cougs did their best to have practice as usual, but it was tough.

"Yeah, they are all wondering, all watching and trying to figure out where we're going to be," said outside receivers coach Dennis Simmons. "We all want to know. That's what gives you your why and your purpose of who you're practicing for."

WSU head man Mike Leach knows a thing or two about waiting for bowl information. It's not exactly old hat, but he definitely knows how to wait it out, and it doesn't include sitting around and pondering the future.

"I've been through this for what, 13 bowls or something? You sit around and you drive yourself crazy," he said. "You just go about your business."

That business is football, and Leach said there is some excitement, but they battled that energy by practicing hard.

"We had really good work," he said. "We worked our older guys about half an hour and then the young guys worked for the next hour and 20 minutes or so. So yeah, we've had good work and extra work - especially with the young guys it's been really beneficial. So yah, they are excited."

Most around the WSU campus thought that they would land in the New Mexico Bowl and on Sunday, ESPN's Brett McMurphy tweeted that the Cougs will indeed be headed to Albuquerque to take on Colorado State in the Gildan New Mexico Bowl on Dec. 21 (TV: ESPN, 11 a.m.)

Regardless of the opponent, Leach said the Cougs will put their focus on the things that will make them better. But tape study should begin soon.

"Usually what happens as soon as you hear, everybody sends each other the whole season and you pick and choose whatever you want and start watching it," he said.

Then the Cougs have to determine how to practice – how long and when they need to practice the veterans or focusing on the younger kids.

"It depends on when it is," Leach said. "We'll work the young guys as long as we can."

The New Mexico Bowl is the first bowl of the year, just over 12 days away.

In addition to focusing on football, the Cougars are also heading into finals week, and assistant coaches will go back out on the recruiting trail this week. It was not known at press time when the Cougs will practice next. The assistants out on the recruiting trail probably wouldn't be as big a challenge as would the finals schedule.

Simmons said that he would leave for L.A. later on Sunday night, then head to Dallas, Houston and anywhere else needed. The Cougs have three postseason practices under their belts already, and the first one on Thursday was coached by just Leach and Mike Breske, with the other assistants out recruiting.

Leach said because head coaches are only allowed one in-home visit with a player, he is staying put this week and will focus the rest of his in-home opportunities for January. Leach was out on the road last week as soon as the in-home visit period opened. Recruiting shuts down Dec. 16 and doesn't open back up for in-homes and official visit until after the New Year.

But the thing on everybody's mind at Sunday's practice was bowling. Now that the Cougs know where they're headed, they have some work to do before Dec. 21 arrives.

Cougfan Top Stories