Leach: So we've got this WR who owns a wolf

SPOKANE -- Mike Leach shared a few thoughts on Pac-12 football officiating during Monday’s Spokane Cougar Club luncheon. He also brought along a number of video highlights, including walk ons making good on special teams, one of whom is near and dear to the coach's heart. Leach also talked about a Cougar wideout who owns a wolf. Yes, a wolf.

No, Leach didn’t say anything about the officiating that that would get him fined. Instead, the Washington State coach laid out a plan to ensure that the conference has the best officials in the game.

“What you want is to make sure that the Pac-12 is the gold standard, so the first thing I would do is double their pay,” Leach said. “Then I would grade them out and at the end of the season, you kick the bottom five guys out and then go recruit.”

It’s an idea that, if nothing else, made a few attendees think about becoming an official.

During the luncheon it was announced WSU quarterback Luke Falk had been selected Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week.

Leach congratulated his redshirt freshman quarterback for picking up the honor in just his first collegiate start – and then showed a number of highlights from Saturday’s 39-32 win at Oregon State to show exactly why he’d earned the honor – including a heady read before lofting a touchdown pass to Vince Mayle.

“He saw their safety and realized that Vince was one-on-one -- and we like that,” Leach said. “He made a good throw.”

But Leach was just as eager to talk about a few other players who have come on late in the season.

“This guy is one of my favorite players: Parker Henry,” Leach said, showing Henry racing downfield on a Cougar kickoff and tackling the Oregon State return man. “We call him The Bulldog and he’s a walk on linebacker. I don’t think he even broke stride and he just blew the guy up.”

Next up was a clip on punt coverage, with a Cougar gunner running downfield to make a solid tackle near the sideline.

“This guy is Willie Roach and he’s a walk on defensive back,” Leach said. “Both of these guys have kind of emerged in the last couple weeks. They’re guys who’ve said they want to play special teams and are getting the chance.

“I would say that our best game on special teams was this last one. It’s still a work in progress.”

Leach was especially happy to talk about walk on redshirt junior wideout Tyler Baker (pictured).

“He’s a kid from Tyler, Texas who played at Ole Miss,” Leach said. “He was working out at a place back in Tyler where we still know some of the people and he ended up transferring here and he had a good spring, a really good spring.

“He owns a wolf. Yeah, a wolf. Everyone was pretty excited about the wolf at first, but then the wolf started tearing up that apartment pretty good. Gunnar Eklund lives with the wolf and he thinks less and less of the wolf all the time. I’d like to meet the wolf, but I haven’t yet.”

Leach was asked about Rickey Galvin’s block -- the 5-foot-8 receiver was involved in a violent collision on what should have been a touchdown if not for an inadvertent whistle.

“Rickey does a good job blocking, but I’ll tell you what, we have a guy who’s even smaller who does a helluva job: Robert Lewis. He weighs in at, maybe, 155 pounds, but he just eats up the space on guys.”

Leach was asked if there was anyone on the roster who could replace the physical play of Vince Mayle next season.

“We have a guy named Barry Ware who has that kind of size, but he’s just not in shape to play college football right now,” he said of the true freshman. “We’re going to have to work on our receiving corps over the offseason because that’s crucial to what we do and we know there are going to be some new faces there next year.”

The coach was asked about junior college players and if they were in his plans for next season.

“You don’t want to ignore them, but I try to limit myself to between zero and five of them a year,” he said. “You prefer to favor your own guys who have been in the system. I look at JC players as having about a 50-50 chance of working out. A guy like Vince Mayle is a prime example of a guy who works out for you.

“But at the same time, there are some strong, explosive players out there and you don’t want to ignore them.”

Leach said one of his defensive priorities for the offseason will be the team’s young secondary and at its defensive ends.

“We have some guys in the secondary who were playing on the scout team one week and in the starting unit the next,” he said. “Defensive end is one of those positions where if you have someone who is exactly what you want to play the position, they’re playing somewhere else. That’s why you see so many teams in the NFL playing average defensive ends – there’s just a shortage of them out there.”

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