Mike Leach doesn't take officiating bait

PULLMAN -- Mike Leach was asked at the end of his press conference about officiating, and whether or not it has improved over the years. For a brief instant, you could almost sense the WSU head man was debating on whether to start spending some dollars.

But discretion won out and Leach said he cannot comment on officiating, and on whether they have improved or not.

He did say that when the day comes that he won’t get fined for his comments on officiating, then he'll have plenty to say about the topic.

WSU has had several calls, non-calls and non-reviews go against them this season, most notably in the Cal and Oregon losses. In the Stanford game, WSU also appeared to have plenty of officiating calls (and spots) to complain about, but so did the Cardinal.

Meanwhile, it's not new but it is consistent. Mike Leach said on Tuesday morning what he has preached all year -- the Cougars are moving in the right direction and in order to keep moving forward, they need to play to their potential on every play and not just in spurts. “We need to just steadily improve and play more mature as a unit. We’ve played everybody close, we’ve played some of the best teams in the country close. We just have to continue to be more consistent. We have to be more consistent throughout, and play older than we are,” Leach said. But Leach also then said the key to playing more consistently is neither a physical or mental thing, but rather an experience thing in the Cougars’ case.

I asked Leach where Stanford challenged them the most and he said the same thing he said immediately after the game, that Stanford excelled in both their offensive and defensive fronts.

On that same note, Stanford coach David Shaw said the Cougars’ defense is a physical group up front that was able to pressure Cardinal quarterback Kevin Hogan into some errant throws.

That said, Hogan threw three touchdowns and zero interceptions compared to Halliday’s two touchdowns and one interception. Hogan was sacked twice to Halliday's four takedowns.

On Tuesday, Leach talked about ball control and how he thinks it has nothing to do with the game clock (Stanford 31:50, WSU 28:10). Instead, Leach said ball control is related to the number of first downs a team gets, the number of plays a team runs, and a team’s third-down efficiency.

Stanford had 20 first downs to the Cougs' 18, WSU had 80 plays to the Cardinal's 68 and Stanford was 4-of-12 on third downs while WSU was 5-of-19.

When asked how many coaches will go or already are on the recruiting trail during the bye week, including interim special teams coach Eric Mele, Leach responded by saying the week is not over yet. By the end of the bye week, he said all of the assistant coaches will have been out recruiting.

CF.C asked Stanford head coach David Shaw on Tuesday where the Cougars challenged the Cardinal most on Friday. He took a deep breath and said it all started with Connor Halliday.

“We kept him under 300 yards just barely, and we did hit the quarterback, sacked him four times. The ball still gets out of his hands so fast,” Shaw said. “Those fourth-and-shorts where we had tight coverage but the ball got there before our guys could. The throw he made for the last touchdown, there’s no defense for that. You’re talking about a great quarterback that, as much as we hit him, he didn’t get rattled.”

  • Pac-12 teams this season have compiled a 22-7 record this season in road games. The Cougars are 1-2 on the road and 1-3 at home in 2014. When asked about home field advantage, Leach said he thinks home fields command a special energy and that Washington State has played similarly at home to how it has on the road this year.

  • The Cougs' 2-5 record is deceiving in some ways. The Cougars points for and points against is 245-245. The Cal loss came with a missed chip-shot field goal and the Cougs took Oregon down to the wire. And then there are the Rutgers and Nevada losses to start the season where WSU was favored in both games. Against Stanford, WSU was within one touchdown with 13:02 remaining in the fourth quarter before wearing down.

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