Leach talks turnovers, and how to name a son

SO WHAT ALL did the Cougs do during the bye? What does the defense need to do vs. the Wildcats? What should you avoid when naming your son? Mike Leach answered all those questions and more during his weekly radio show.

When Arizona heads to town on Saturday, they’ll bring their high-octane offense with them. Freshman quarterback Anu Soloman, who has thrown for 2,136 yards, 15 touchdowns and four interceptions, leads the Wildcats. Fellow freshman Nick Wilson has added 574 yards and six touchdowns on the ground.

On Thursday night’s Cougar Coaches show hosted by Bud Nameck, Leach said the Cougs are going to have to focus on one thing in particular. Something which he hopes to see more of the rest of the way.

“The thing is turnovers are important and we need more of them,” Leach said. “I also think in the end we need to focus on ourselves and make sure we don’t squander opportunities.

“We do need to get turnovers, though. We played a lot of different faces for a variety of different reasons. We just need more. We need to work on it and improve on it.”

THE GAME ON SATURDAY against No. 15 Arizona is sold out. It’s Dad’s Weekend out on the Palouse and according to a close friend, “The RV lot is already rocking.”

This is something that doesn’t surprise Leach.

“Our crowds have been unbelievable,” Leach said. “We’ve got new bells and whistles, and really, I only get to appreciate a small portion of it. There’s new dimensions to that stadium and it’s gotten to the point where people spend the night or maybe two nights to enjoy it.

“I’ll have to retire in order to do that. Our place is great when I comes to the tailgating atmosphere. Our fans do a great job.”

ANOTHER LARGE TOPIC of discussion was recruiting. Leach and his staff spent the majority of last week’s bye on the recruiting front.

“We were busy,” Leach said. “The first three days (of the bye) we spent recruiting, then we practice for two days, then we were out recruiting for the Friday games. We had a short practice on Saturday and then we were back in a normal game week on Sunday.”

Leach talked about the benefit of being able to seeing the kids play in person, rather than just solely rely on game film.

“You can see the atmosphere of when they’re ahead or playing behind,” Leach said. “Recruiting can be embellished sometimes.”

For one Class of 2014 member, the opposite held true. Leach had glowing things to say about freshman offensive tackle Andre Dillard, who is redshirting this season. Dillard, out of Woodinville, was not heavily recruiting out of high school. He chose the Cougs over offers from Idaho, Eastern Washington and Portland State.

“We got another guy, great feet,” Leach said. “His dad played here. He’s got long arms, Andre Dillard. I don’t have a good reason why there wasn’t a lot of traffic on him. We feel he’s one of the best lineman we recruited. We might have been the only major college who offered him. I don’t know why.

“He came in at 255 (pounds). He’ll put on a bunch of weight. Before long, he’ll be an inch or two taller, be 310 and be a great football player for us.”

LEACH WAS ASKED about how his staff evaluates talent. He recalled a time when he was an assistant coach at Kentucky and were recruiting the East Coast.

“One year we went to New York and New Jersey,” Leach said. “Basically, New Jersey has good players, but bad football. They got a lot of people and some of them can play, but overall, my opinion, they start the season late and end it early… Statistically, they send a lot of players to the NFL. They tend to have smaller schools population wise. There’s a bunch of teams I could play on.

“There’s guys out there who are great players (in high school) and turn out to be good ones, but based on competition, you won’t get a feel for it. I didn’t think I could evaluate New Jersey. Some of it was just experience with the leagues there. If you have a feel for quality, you can make a better judgment.”

According to NationalHSFootball.com, however, New Jersey has three teams in the National Top 25: No. 4 Paramus Catholic, No. 8 Don Bosco Prep and No. 25 St. Peter’s Prep.

AS FOR NAMING your son? Leach was asked advice from a Cougar fan on what the process should be in selecting a name. The fan is expecting a son just two days after the Apple Cup.

Leach’s response didn’t disappoint.

“Let your wife give you all the names she likes, but retain veto power,” Leach quipped. “She’ll fire 150 to you from my experience. Just have the power to veto. Just know you’ll have to be satisfied with somewhere in the neighborhood of 10 of them. Of the 150, there will be 10 acceptable names.

“Try to avoid the locale names too. In Texas, I get a kick out of this, every kid will be named Dallas, Austin or Houston. Now why would a kid want that? About on-third of his class already has it. I would avoid that. Try and avoid the trends, but by all means remain veto power. That way your kid has a fighting chance to hang out with the cool kids.”

Leach added, “Sometimes people try too hard. Everybody can name their kid whatever they want. Our best wide receiver is River. I couldn’t be happier with that.”


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