Radio Show: Mike Leach looking for soccer players?

SOCCER AND MIKE LEACH? If it doesn’t seem like a great fit, it’s because it’s not. The WSU head man admitted on his radio show on Thursday night he doesn’t know much about the sport or follow the game. However, that doesn’t mean WSU players shouldn’t be ready to hit the pitch this spring. Confused? We discuss that and more below.

Futbol for Leach?

Of course it doesn’t have a ring to it. However, although Leach said he doesn’t watch much, he’s all about recruiting players with a background in the sport.

Many Cougar fans knows about JUCO transfer Shalom Luani, who was a star of the Samoan National team before heading to City College of San Francisco to hit the gridiron.

And Leach said when he’s out on the road recruiting, he loves hearing when players let him know they’ve got experience on the soccer field.

“You know, I’ve had good luck with soccer players,” Leach said. “I don’t know a ton about soccer, I know more about Rugby, and by the way the World Cup is going on right now and everyone should be watching that. But if you think about it, soccer players are coordinated on both sides of the body.

“Their vision is great because they’re looking at the ball and at the same time they’re looking downfield to try and pass it to one of their buddies. They develop coordination. Luani is a good example of that. Wes Welker was an all-state soccer player too before he went to (Texas) Tech. He wasn’t particularly fast, but he had a great change of direction.”

LEACH WENT ON to say that while he was at Texas Tech, he wanted his team to play intramural soccer one spring, but of all things, the intramural directors wouldn’t allow it.

“You know I’ve thought about it again and I don’t know if I’ll be able to make it happen or not, but I want our guys to get out there and play in the spring. Particularly the offensive lineman and the defensive lineman. I figured it’d be great for those big guys to be running in and out of cuts.

“I tried to do this one year at Tech, but intramurals told me they didn’t have room for 10-12 more teams. We wanted all of them to do it. Then we thought about doing it (playing soccer) on our own, but it cuts into your hours. The NCAA only lets you do a certain amount of stuff together.”

AS YOU MIGHT imagine, soccer wasn’t the only thing Leach had on his mind during his weekly radio program. The talk of the town over the last five days has been WSU’s stunning upset victory at Oregon, which Leach was more than happy to discuss on Thursday.

“I thought we played hard for the entire game,” he said. “I didn’t think it went perfect for us, but I thought we played incredibly hard and we played together well. The most important thing is you have to stay in the game and keep slugging. We did a fantastic job of that.”

And following the win, you better believe the Cougar locker room was rockin’ in celebration. Leach was right in the middle of the action too.

“We were glad to beat those guys,” Leach said. “In the locker room, I got picked up by a couple of those big guys. It’s happened to me before, but not by guys quite as strong as those cats. If I recall, it was a combo of Destiny Vaeao, Robert Barber and Daniel Ekuale. I was trying to make sure they were happy, but at the same time I didn’t want them to throw me in a ditch and be one of those pigs they roast there.”

SPEAKING OF DEFENSIVE LINEMAN, Leach said the group had a solid outing vs. Oregon on Saturday and are continuing to improve.

“We’re deeper there and some of those guys have redshirted, so there’s more precision in what we do. We’ve got good focus right now. I thought Hercules (Mata’afa) did some good things. He hits little runs and he’s tough to stop. 

“We just need to get him in a position where those runs last a little longer. You’ll click on the film and there are 3-4 plays we see and I wonder to myself how we’d be able to try and stop him. By a defensive lineman’s standards, he’s not a big guy, but he’s physical.

“Coming out of high school, he was one of the three best wrestler in America. He lost to the eventual national champion in his weight division. I think his mom kind of hit it on the head. She didn’t name him “Sneeey” or “Dozey”, she called him Hercules and it’s working for him.”

To close out the show, Leach only had about 30 seconds to discuss Saturday’s upcoming contest vs. Oregon State, but said the Cougs need to continue doing what they’re doing.

“As redundant as it sounds, we need to focus on each individual play and play as a unit,” he said. “We just need to make sure we’re getting the most out of our opportunities. As simple and boring as it sounds, we need to play hard for the entire game. I wish I could make it more exciting than that, but that’s what we need to do."

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