Inside The Learning Curve with Cougs' Breske

BEFORE HITTING the recruiting trail this evening, Mike Breske was holding post-spring exit interviews with his defensive backs on Wednesday. WSU's secondary coach and defensive coordinator was kind enough to fit CF.C into his jam-packed schedule and even better, Breske is nothing if not candid. If one of his guys isn't doing the things he should be, Breske is going to let him know about it.

True freshman corner Marcellus Pippins has a lot of potential. And it's just his first spring out on the Palouse. But he didn't meet the high level of expectations Mike Breske had held for him.

Breske wasn't talking about on-field results but rather, effort. And that will get you noticed on a Mike Leach team. Leach has mentioned repeatedly since arriving in Pullman that great effort is required above all with no if's, and's or but's about it.

As part of our talk about the cornerback position, we asked Breske about Pippins' development. With some coaches you might get a lot of coachspeak on a question like that. But Breske calmly and matter-of-factly laid it out.

"Marcellus Pippins, kinda (on) the learning curve in not playing last fall and coming in as a grayshirt, not understanding expectations, effort, that type of deal – which is a learning curve for these young guys," said Breske. "He made some improvement. I'm having exit meetings right now with the DBs and we talked about that, that he gets it.

"Effort isn't something we should have to coach. That's expected. It comes from your heart. You don't need ability for effort (or) a skills set, you've just got to get it done. But like I say, it's a learning curve for these young guys."

BRESKE PROBABLY mentioned the term "learning curve" another half-dozen times in our talk, emphasizing it's simply a reality that it can take some players longer than others to truly ‘get it,' and then follow through on what's required at Washington State and what it takes to win at the Pac-12 level. Breske also said he's optimistic on Pippins' potential.

"He's got to physically get stronger and then the mental aspect, just understanding the college game, the quickness of the college game -- putting the time into it. And that's a learning curve for him. How quickly (he comes along), that's up to him," said Breske.

WHAT WILL HELP Pippins and the rest of the inexperienced cornerbacks group at WSU in 2014 is a rules change. For the first time this summer, the NCAA will allow schools to assign eight hours of mandatory work (such as conditioning, weight lifting, film study) and for coaches to be present for it. There have always been voluntary summer programs, but coaches until now could not observe or be present for it.

Indeed, coaches previously were not allowed any contact in those settings with their players during the summer. There are still limitations on what players can do during this time but it's an offseason sea change for coaches to now be able to work with their position groups. Brekse said he'll use one hour a week, as part of the eight hours total allowed per week, to spend some valuable "drill time and downtime" with his defensive backs.

"It's a blessing because we're so young and it gives me the opportunity to still work some good drills, but not overload them," said Breske.

All nine of WSU's assistants will be out on the road recruiting basically for the next month. Schools used to be allowed to send out only seven assistants at one time but that's another recent rules change.

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