Moos has talked to two bowls high on Pac-12 list, Leach likens WSU game experience to Woodstock

ONLY MIKE LEACH would think to compare the Washington State game day experience to Woodstock. Meanwhile, as pundits are forecasting WSU to play in the Las Vegas or Sun Bowl, Bill Moos has had preliminary conversations with representatives from two bowl games higher on the Pac-12 tie-in list.

The Alamo Bowl is the No. 2  bowl among Pac-12 tie-ins, the Holiday Bowl is No. 3.  Moos said on his radio show he’s had discussions with representatives from both bowl games in recent days.

“(They’re) very excited about what they’re seeing in Washington State,” said Moos.

The Sun Bowl is pegged as the No. 5 Pac-12 bowl, with Las Vegas No. 6.

The Pac-12 champion plays in the Rose Bowl this year, with the 2015-16 season a year where the Rose Bowl is not in the playoff rotation.  WSU (5-2, 3-1) controls its destiny in the race for the Pac-12 crown headed into Saturday's game against Stanford (6-1, 5-0). 

Meanwhile, Leach says the excitement surrounding the WSU game experience is second to none – regardless of time and space, peace and love.

“It’s an event beyond football (that takes place over) several days .. it would be probably on the scale with Woodstock I would say, as far as being a historic event where people gather. It’s kind of a statement for our generation, I would say,” said Leach.

Leach’s nod to the 1969 music festival came during a teleconference so there was no way to see if the head man of the Cougs was smiling. He sounded serious.

So if you see someone on the Palouse this week wearing a crimson bandana and hammering out a solo performance of the Star Spangled Banner on guitar, no cause for concern, it's probably just Coach.

Leach said as the season goes along, it’s not unusual for him to cancel a practice here and there, as he did this past Sunday night. As it gets later in the season, the top priority is to keep the players fresh and focused, Leach said, and cancelling a session doesn’t impact the work needed to be done the rest of the week.

“You have to decrease the reps as the season goes on,” said Leach. “They still meet, but we don’t go out on the field,” said Leach.

The Cougs pass the eye test more than ever this year but Leach isn’t ready to hang a Mission Accomplished banner up anytime soon.

“Stronger (this year), not as strong as we’d like to be or we will be in the future… Part of it is we’re a team predominantly of sophomores,” said Leach.

Leach was asked how much credit strength and conditioning coach should Jason Loscalzo should be credited for the Cougs’ 5-2 record.

“I think everyone does it together but he’s certainly a key figure, a quality offseason was had for sure,” said Leach.

Right guard Eduardo Middleton has had a number of impressive downfield blocks this year. And RT Cole Madison is one who has caught Moos’ eye. Jason Gesser, on the radio with Moos each week, credited the o-line and running backs for the improved scoring in the red zone but save the bulk of his praise for Falk, saying the biggest difference has been Falk’s willingness to check to the run.

WSU is t-14th nationally in red zone scoring offense  and have scored 24 TDs in 33 red zone chances (6 run TDs, 19 passing TDs).

Outside receiver Gabe Marks leads the Cougs and the Pac-12 with 10 TD receptions and Gesser is a big fan of Marks’ demeanor – on the field and off.

On the field, Marks after one of this touchdown grabs Saturday was more than willing to let Arizona and anyone else within earshot know he couldn’t be stopped. But after the game, it’s a different Marks, with Gesser saying he is more interested in talking about his teammates’ good play rather than detail his own exploits.

NOTABLE NOTES:

  • Hard to believe but WSU on Saturday is looking for its first win over a top-10 opponent since beating No. 5 Texas in the 2003 Holiday Bowl and its first win over a ranked team in Martin Stadium since No. 16 Oregon in ‘06. Stanford is ranked No. 8 in the Pa and Coaches polls.
  • Remember in Leach’s first three years when the Cougs would go for it and too frequently turn the ball over on downs? They’re converting a heck of a lot more of those attempts this season. Indeed, WSU leads the nation in fourth-down conversions (15) and is tied for the most attempts (23).
  • During Leach’s tenure in Pullman, the Cougs have rushed for at least 100 yards eight times. Four of them have come this season.
  • Dom Williams has 25 TD catches over his WSU career, second all-time in program history. He needs to average 1.4 TDs over the next five games to catch Jason Hill (32).  Williams owns the WSU record with eight multiple-TD games, earlier this season breaking Hill’s mark of seven. Williams is No. 6 in school history with 2,411 career receiving yards.
  • Marks will tie Michael Bumpus for the all-time WSU receptions mark with 15 more grabs. Bumpus racked up 195 receptions over his WSU career.  Marks heading into Saturday leads the Pac-12 in catches (57), TDs (10), catches per game (8.1) and is second in receiving yards with 717 hashes.
  • Rush Kache Palacio has 14 career sacks headed into Week Eight. He needs 1.5 more to break into the WSU top ten. Safety Shalom Luani is t-18th nationally  in solo tackles per game (5.7). Peyton Pelluer is t-35th (5.3).
  • Six true freshman on scholarship have played this season: They are S Hunter Dale, WR Tavares Martin, CB Darrien Molton, WR Kyle Sweet and LB Logan Tago.


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