Allison sees Halliday, texts out call to arms

PULLMAN — When Jeremiah Allison was a true freshman on Mike Leach's first WSU team, the Cougs' star player on defense went down with a knee injury just before the Apple Cup, snapping a streak of 47 starts. The Cougar players rallied around Travis Long and upset the Huskies. Three years later, visiting Connor Halliday in the hospital, Allison sent out a text to his teammates.

Leach almost never comments on nor even acknowledges injuries but he said on Monday Connor Halliday broke his fibula and tibia down close to the ankle.

Cougar players have been visiting Halliday in the hospital. WIL Jeremiah Allison (pictured above) said he saw Halliday on Sunday night and texted his teammates, asking them if seeing Halliday injured doesn’t serve as enough motivation, then what will?

Allison harkened back to 2012 when Travis Long suffered a knee injury just before the Apple Cup that put him on crutches, saying it reminded him of the situation with Halliday's injury and the need for the Cougs to rally around their fallen teammate. Unlike last season, the Cougs won't be bowling in 2014 but they still have one goal, Allison said.

“Win,” Allison said. “We still have games to be played, and no one wants to lose. So with the bowl picture not being there, that shouldn’t change anything. At the end of the day, we still have three games left and we want to win them all.”

Allison said he wants to see the fight, grit and passion for the game from the Cougs in the games against Oregon State, ASU and UW. Joe Dahl said the Cougs know that finishing this season strong is imperative to the future of the program.

“We realize that we’re not going to make a bowl game, but we’re not giving up on the season. We all realize the importance, especially as an offensive line, we know that every one of us is coming back next year, so right now, we’re just trying to win all three of these games, and build a great momentum to come in next year,” Dahl said.

The win in the 2012 Apple Cup that Allison referenced, Dahl said, propelled the Cougars into a great offseason, with much-improved performances the next time they put the pads on in spring ball. From there, the Cougars improved on their 3-9 record from 2012 and went bowling.

The big issue for the Cougars? They are still battling themselves, according to Leach.

“The biggest thing we need to do as a team is we need to compete better. We need to compete individual plays better, we need to compete better,” Leach said. “Our team right now is too quick to go make excuses. Any time something doesn’t go our way, we want to make some kind of excuse.”

Leach said the players still have a tendency to wear frowns on their faces and that the younger players are proud only up until the moment they step on the field. Leach explained that some of the freshmen on the team express their desire to play at a young age, but when given the chance, they lose their “puffy chest,” as Leach put it, and they play timidly.

The coach said that is understandable at some level but ultimately, the freshmen need to play like they belong on the field. The source of the timidity, the excuses and the upset demeanor is one with deep roots, he said.

“I think it’s been going on here for decades. I think we all need to battle to change it, and we’re in the middle of a problem that’s been going on for a long, long time,” Leach said. “We need to do the best we can to change it, and change it as quick as we can.”

When Leach was asked what he personally wanted to improve upon as a coach over the course of the next three games, he responded with: “Compete as hard as possible every play.”

If it were only so simple, the Cougars might be a lot better than their record shows.

“It’s not what any of us expected, that’s for sure. There are so many games that could have gone a different way, and our job is just to let those things go,” Dahl said. “All we can do now is focus on winning these last three, and it starts this week with Oregon State. But it’s definitely been tough not living up to our expectations going into the year.”

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