Mike Leach: No moral victories for Cougs

DURING THE COUGAR COACHES show on Thursday night, many of the questions from fans were on the Oregon game. Yes, the Cougs lost 38-31, but could positives be taken away from it? Sure, Mike Leach said, and although he doesn’t believe in moral victories, the Cougs had plenty to be proud of.

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“We missed a good opportunity,” Leach said. “The thing is, if we beat Oregon, our guys could have talked about it for the rest of their lives. We should have put ourselves in a position to say that. The thing you gauge is how well you played.

“Did we play as good as we can? Did we take a step as far as doing that? We did, I thought, and we took away far more positives than negatives. It is disappointing though that we fell short. There are no moral victories. We need to look at what we did well, focus and know we need to make one more play.”

Leach added that’s been the main message he’s sent to his team this week.

“I’ve told them, if everyone out there made one more play, we win that football game," said Leach. "We need to keep that in perspective. Our guys need to continue playing knowing we need to make one more play each game.”

AND AS THE COUGS get ready for Utah on Saturday (Pac-12 Networks; 5 p.m. kickoff Pacific), Leach knows his guys will need to find those 'one more plays' to leave Salt Lake City with a victory. This includes the young Cougs, who are seeing more and more action.

Safety Sulaiman Hameed, will start at free safety, defensive coordinator Mike Breske announced after Thursday's practice. During that practice, Leach said several youngsters had solid days, Hameed included.

“You know, we've got some great dynamic young guys,” he said. “Defensively, there’s probably four or five of them who looked good (at practice). The DBs and linebackers did some good things.

“(Against Oregon), Jeremiah Alison had a great game. He was our team’s leading tackler (10, tied with Darryl Monroe.) Sulaiman Hameed is playing well too and (BUCK) Ivan McLennan continues to be solid. Offensively, we had catches by Robert Lewis, Calvin Green and River Cracraft.”

ANOTHER YOUNG GUY, up front for the Cougs, who continues to impress the coaching staff is second-year sophomore offensive lineman Riley Sorenson. The first-year starting center had a solid performance against Oregon, pacing the offensive line, which only allowed one sack all night against the No. 2 Ducks.

Sorenson earned the “Bone Award”, which is given to the hoss who the coaches determine had the best showing.

“I thought Riley had the best game out of all of them,” Leach said. “He’s a young guy, but he does a lot of things well for us. He’s consistent too, which is the big thing.”

Consistency, though, needs to keep growing for the team as the season progresses. A big step was taken in the Oregon game, Leach said.

“The thing is that people are getting more acclimated with one another,” Leach said. “We’re growing together with the more reps that we have. That’s big for us and we’ll continue to make steps.”

ANOTHER TOPIC OF discussion between host Bud Nameck and Leach was the officiating during the Oregon loss. Much has been made on cyber space about the non pass-interference call against Isiah Myers in the second half of that game. Leach, carefully, offered insights on the officiating.

“I said a while back that rather than coaches or players commenting on officiating, they ought to bring the officials back to answer a couple questions from the media,” Leach said. “The thing about officiating is coaches can’t really answer unless they want to spend some money (through a fine).

“Last time I was asked about it (officiating), they took $10,000, used all my suggestions and took credit for it. I think it would solve a lot of things to have them come out and talk. They go in there, get the couple of questions, answer them and they’re out. That way, the media gets their answer and it’s left at that.”

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