Harrell looks to be a perfect fit for Leach

GRAHAM HARRELL doesn't have an exact idea of what he'll be doing from one day to the next under Mike Leach. He has no idea what his official title is at WSU. But after talking with Harrell, this one seems as good as any: The Mike Leach Director of Fire Ants Genealogy and Conventional Thinking.

CougFans already knew Mike Leach was a character. What we learned this week is that Graham Harrell, who starred at quarterback for Mike Leach at Texas Tech from 2004-08, seems to be cut from the same cloth.

"I remember sitting in quarterback meetings with him… and we'd be talking about crazy trial cases going on at the time, or Geronimo or Indians or fire ants. Like I said, he thinks he's an expert on everything so he'll just tell you about it… Coach, as I'm sure you've figured out, doesn't do things the conventional way," Harrell said in a slight Texas twang.

But Harrell also says there is a method to the madness.

"I think that made us a better team -- because we were always loose, always relaxed, always having fun," said Harrell.

HARRELL SAYS HIS role at WSU will likely vary and evolve under Leach. But it will certainly involve pouring over film and dialing into quarterback fundamentals and QB-WR timing.

"I can watch film and tell Coach; ‘Your quarterback's feet are bad here,'" said Harrell. "And that's one thing Coach told me, ‘Watch their footwork because in all the things that I get caught up in with coaching, a lot of times that's one thing that slips. So if you see our guys and think we need to work on our footwork, please tell me.'"

Harrell, who left Tech as the program's all-time leader in passing yards and TD passes, won't work on-field with WSU players per the rules but he can observe practices. And he can be a sounding board for players stopping by the office.

"As far as telling me exactly what he wants me to do, day to day (Leach) just gives me a task," said Harrell. "Right now he has me breaking down all the cut-ups of last year and this year and critiquing it as detailed possible: What did we do well, what did we do bad, what do we need to change? Do we need to drop something, add something?

"At times I'm sure he'll want me to talk to the quarterbacks (about) the way I did things, what they're seeing, what I would see. I've sat in on the receiver meetings some during the spring to tell the receiver coaches what a quarterback is looking at right here… As the season gets here I think it will be a moving (target.)"

He also said most people might not realize how open Leach is to trying new things.

"Coach is always asking did you learn any new drills, are there any new plays I need to look at. The cool thing about Coach is he is very open-minded. He's always wanting to learn, he's always open-minded to me giving suggestions," said Harrell.

HARRELL, WHO SPENT four years in the NFL and three with the Packers, says that experience will shape his time at WSU.

"In the NFL we were so detailed with (QB footwork). With Aaron (Rodgers) he was very detailed in his drops -- and he wanted his feet to time up with the receivers perfectly all the time. We were very meticulous on that… I think the thing I learned most in the NFL is just how important the small details are," said Harrell.

HARRELL'S PATH TO Washington State came together quickly.

"I was just back home training and kinda getting bored," said Harrell. "So (Leach) said why don't you just come and hang out for a few days in the spring… While I was here I obviously watched a little film and talked a little ‘ball with him. When I was leaving he said, ‘If we have a position open would you be interested?' I said I would and we left it at that.

"About a week later he called and said ‘Well, we have a position open, are you interested?' and I said yes… I was here not long after that. To have an opportunity to work with Coach Leach is something I was really excited about. He's got this program going the right direction so it's an exciting time here."

HARRELL SAID LEACH has told him if he gets the call from the NFL, he has his blessing to pack his bags and head out. But whether that happens or not, Harrell comes from a family of coaches (his dad, brothers and other family members are all Texas high school coaches) and the coaching profession looks to be in his future.

"I'm glad to be here and I love what I'm doing here," said Harrell. "I've always known coaching was what I wanted to do."

LEACH RAISED eyebrows out on the Palouse his first two years by how often, and from where on the field, he went for it on fourth down. But he actually went for it more on fourth down at Tech. So as WSU continues to improve, does that mean Leach will actually go for it more, rather than less? We asked the guy who was under center for him on many go-for-it occasions.

"Once he gets his offense firing here and the guys get more and more comfortable in it, he'll go for it even more often I think," said Harrell. "That's how it was at Tech: Our guys are good at what we do and we have four downs instead of three to get a first down that way… but if you look our fourth down percentage was really pretty good.

"It doesn't matter where on the field or what the down and distance is, he's not scared to go for it… I would think the number of times he goes for it will only go up from here."

AS FOR THAT official WSU title, well, Harrell will find that out later.

"I really don't even know that, they're calling me a lot of different things here," quipped Harrell. "…More than anything (it's) just for me to watch tape with him, see what I see and tell him or tell the receivers coach this is what the quarterback is looking at. If you want to get your eyes open this what we need to do.

"And he may not agree with me… If he likes it then we'll do it and if he doesn't he'll say it's a dumb idea (laughs), that's just the way Coach is."

And it seems Harrell wouldn't have it any other way.

Cougfan Top Stories