Halliday says responsibility for loss is his

PULLMAN — Connor Halliday took the blame for Saturday's loss to California during a conference call on Tuesday, saying that it is discouraging to set an FBS passing record, throw six touchdowns, no interceptions and still come up empty.

“Quarterbacks are judged on wins and losses. It’s my job to find us a way to win the game,” Halliday said. “It’s my job bottom line to get us to win the game, and I didn’t do that, so that’s disappointing.”

Sitting at 2-4, the Cougars are in a sticky situation. They will travel to play Stanford on Friday night after a short week of practice, and that Stanford defense is a stingy bunch. They allow a mere 107.4 passing yards per game, and a measly 8.6 points.

Halliday said the Cardinal have the toughest defense WSU is likely to face all year in the Pac-12.

To win, Halliday said he will need to focus on a quick releases, taking the screens when there, and to make the defensive front move from sideline to sideline. The idea is to tire out the defense and make their pass rush more lethargic at the end of long drives and in the fourth quarter.

The deep drop-back passes probably won't be a priority, Halliday said, which means the Cougars will have to induce fatigue before they go for the potential big play.

“What Stanford does best is they’re physical up front, both (the) offensive line and defensive line,” Mike Leach said on his own teleconference on Tuesday. “That’s kind of what you’re most conscious of when you play them.”

Against California, Halliday had a strong shield to protect him in the form of the offensive line. He said the whole offense was in a rare kind of rhythm where everyone was playing well and was on the same page.

“I think the biggest deal was how well the O-line played. I think I did a good job in the pocket moving around, buying myself a little bit of time. Guys made plays but none of that is possible without the play of the O-line,” Halliday said. “If you look at how they play, there’s a big correlation to how I’m going to play, and I can’t say thanks enough to those guys.”

Halliday said he changed about 40-45 percent of Leach's play calls at the line of scrimmage against California based on what the defense showed him. He said Leach doesn’t argue with him when he does that, aside from possible corrections in the film room.

Indeed, unless it is an absolutely ridiculous audible, Halliday said Leach trusts the quarterback to judge the best play to match the defense.

Yet, Halliday said he isn’t quite at the level of a coach on the field. He said he has a calming presence on the field and can get everyone lined up, but he said he still makes too many mistakes for his liking, such as missing reads or throwing interceptions, (although it didn’t look like that happened often on Saturday.)

Halliday said he earned the trust of Leach in the coach's first first offseason, the quarterback said. Halliday referred to that offseason as awful, describing the up-downs the team had to endure after things didn’t go well on offense. Toward the end of the spring football season after his redshirt sophomore season, Halliday said Leach started to look to his quarterback to refocus the offense rather than stepping in himself to bring down the hammer.

Stanford head coach David Shaw said on his conference call on Tuesday that his team’s philosophy is to control the score and not let it get out of hand, or in other words, reach the level of a shootout like the Cal-WSU game. They are coming off of a 17-14 loss at Notre Dame.


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