Leach's spring wrap: Insight on key battles

MIKE LEACH SAID on Thursday two running backs will play "significantly" this season. It's a question to ultimately be answered in fall camp but if the season were to start today, who are the two? Leach answered that and talked about who leads in the battle at center. It was also apparent that the recruiting classes Leach has brought in, though few in number, are having a decidedly positive impact.

The Cougs have more explosive depth at running back than they have in a long time with Theron West, Jamal Morrow, Marcus Mason, Teondray Caldwell and Gerard Wicks in the fold.

"I think two will play significantly, and I don't know how it's going to unfold as we get into camp, but if we were to play today it would be Theron West and Jamal Morrow," said Mike Leach.

As for the battle at center, it's close to a dead heat between Sam Flor and Riley Sorensen. But one of them holds a slight edge, said Leach.

"I felt like when we left spring Sam Flor was a little ahead of Riley Sorenson -- Riley's got some versatility and stuff, but it's really, really close," said Leach. "Most of spring they went back and forth, their reps were even, and I anticipate that being the case as we go into camp and we'll sort it from there."

"I thought they (offensive line) improved tremendously, I thought our two most improved groups were the offensive line and the secondary. We're bigger on the o-line than we have been, we're more athletic on the o-line than we have been and we're deeper on the o-line than we have been. And we're younger on the o-line than we have been."

LEACH HASN'T BEEN at WSU long enough to have brought in a lot of recruiting classes but the recruits he has brought in, it's starting to play off. That became apparent when he was asked who had impressed him this spring.

"A bunch of those young o-linemen, they're bigger and more athletic even though they're young," said Leach. "I think Sam Flor did some good things, I think Riley Sorenson did some good things. Cole Madison did some good things, Cody O'Connell did some good things. Jamal Morrow did some good things, Theron West has really developed over the couple years he's been here.

"Vince Mayle I thought played better, River Cracraft continues to improve, Drew Loftus has improved. (Other) young guys, Robert Lewis I thought played well, and is definitely better than he has been. And then Calvin Green, as he started to lift off, showed a lot of speed and toughness."

And that was just on offense.

"On defense," said Leach, "I thought those guys that have been here that we redshirted did a good job: (Daniel) Ekuale, Emmitt Su'a(-Kalio), Ivan McLennan, Robert Barber. Let's see, the linebackers, Jeremiah Allison was doing some good things out there.

"I thought Beau Glover would be (considered) one of the biggest surprises of the spring, a walk on who played really hard, really precise, high effort. I think Daquawn (Brown) has improved and Marcellus Pippins did some really good things and Tracy Clark is playing as good as he has been."

LEACH SAID he has no preconceived notions on which incoming rookies might play for the Cougs this season. Leach's general rule of thumb has been that if a player is good enough to be in the two-deeps, he'll play.

"You never know, we've got plenty of holes to fill, everybody does. If a guy's in the two-deep though he doesn't typically redshirt," said Leach.

Leach said he expects the incoming class to arrive for the second summer school session.

"They'll come in the last week of June," said Leach.

LEACH SAID the staff will meet with WSU's compliance department, after the May Evaluation period, to firm up their plan for how they'll schedule the eight hours a week during the summer schools are now allowed to assign as mandatory offseason work (and with coaches now allowed to be around the players and observe.)

"You're allowed to be around them if a ball is not in the air whether it's encouraging academics or just outlining things you need them to do," said Leach.

  • Leach said he anticipates the Cougs staying in Lewiston a little longer this year to start fall camp. Last year, the Cougs spent 10 days at Sacajawea Junior High.

  • Although it's a young team, Leach said he thinks the summer work will be the most productive the Cougs have done since he's been here because of the leadership of Connor Halliday and some of the other upperclassmen.

  • Leach also said the recently-completed spring session was the best they've had since he arrived at WSU. He cited the team's work ethic as the prime reason for it. "If anybody is going to improve, they have to be committed enough to work hard and have great effort, and find ways to do a little extra. And we have a more committed group (now)," said Leach.

  • Leach was asked if Luke Falk had moved into the No. 2 spot after the end of spring. "We split the reps. I thought Luke did a good job and I thought Tyler did a good job. And now they both need to have a great offseason and we'll do more as we start out (fall) camp," said Leach.

  • Leach said now is one of the most important times of the year. "And that's one of the most important roles of spring, to equip everybody with their assignment and technique with as much precision as you can so they can use that period of time (summer) to improve further," said Leach.

    Leach said this current evaluation period, with the WSU assistant coaches out on the road through May, is about both recruiting and evaluation, and those evaluations extend to the underclassmen for future years. The most productive of those visits the assistant coaches will take to high schools this month, Leach said, are the ones where the school is holding a spring practice session the coaches can observe.

  • Leach said that Glover being a student of the game enabled him to make "an awful lot of plays this spring." Leach said the free- and strong safety spots in the Cougs' scheme are "a little bit interchangeable… to a point."

  • Leach will travel to Atlanta later this summer where his oldest daughter is about to give birth to his first grandchild. He'll also travel to Tulsa where his second daughter is getting married. Leach quipped they were ‘Exotic Trip No. 1 and Exotic Trip No. 2.'

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