Washington State's Desinty Vaeao, Gabe Marks and Luke Falk offer up Leach-isms

PULLMAN – The 2015 Cougars are emulating their head coach in more ways than one these days. Sure, at 5-2 with some thrilling crunch time wins, the players “get it” when it comes to the mindset Mike Leach has been looking to install since arriving in Pullman three-plus seasons ago. But now the players are even starting to sound like their coach.

Throughout the WSU player press conferences this week, wideout Gabe Marks, quarterback Luke Falk and d-lineman Destiny Vaeao broke out the Leach-isms.  Whether it was, ‘Do your job,’ or ‘Gotta win ‘em one game at a time,’ it was like listening to Leach himself.

“We just have to go out there, find space, do our job and really just all play together,” Falk said. “Play with all 11 instead of nine out there, and really if we do our job we’ll be fine. We’ve got a good offensive scheme and stuff like that, and as long as we execute we’ll be fine.”

“We’re going into it just looking to win another game this week,” said Marks. “Obviously, if we win it’s for first place in the division and that’s huge. But we can’t really put too much more importance on it than just another game – cause once you start doing that then you start letting the noise (from the outside) get involved in your preparation. And that’s never good.”

Meanwhile, in offering his view of how the defense can be successful this Saturday against Stanford, Vaeao (pictured above) pulled off the triple play: succinct, and echoing BOTH Leach and defensive coordinator Alex Grinch.

“Do your job," said Vaeao. “That’s what our defense is all about: do your job. Gaps, leverage, check down, rally to the ball.”

That said, it’s human nature to look ahead to what a win could mean – for fans and players.

“We gotta play the next week -- if we win this game and lose the next one then it’s like… ‘Alright, you won then you lost,’” Marks said. “In college football, you lose here and it’s a big deal. We don’t have room to lose.”

The national media has been scrambling the last two weeks after the wins over Oregon and Arizona. They didn't expect the Cougs to be playing for the Pac-12 North lead at 5-2, (3-1 Pac-12) -- and particularly so after the season opening loss to Portland State.

But Marks says he did..

“I knew that we were a different team before you guys were able to watch us, even before we went to camp,” said Marks. “Just workouts and stuff like that during the summer and winter, I knew that this was a different group and we were going to be a good team.”

The third quarter has not been good for the Cougs through seven games. WSU is losing the first 15 minutes out of the locker room 51-28 this season. As he does often, Falk put any offensive shortcoming on himself.

“The third quarter lull against Arizona was kinda on me, not making the right reads and stuff,” he said. “But once I started doing my job and everybody starts playing together, it just really shows how good we can be as an offense and as a team.”

Marks was more pointed about the third quarter issues, and he again sounded like he was channeling Leach.

“It’s more about us just being lazy, I think, and feeling good about where we are at that moment of the game,” said Marks. “We’re still a young team as far as figuring out how to finish games and learning how to win games,” he said. “…When teams start to show they’re coming back, I think we start playing again.”

All three offered a thought or two on Stanford.

“One of the most disciplined football teams in the country,” said Marks. “When you look at the NFL and (Bill) Belichick-coached teams… they just don’t make a lot of mistakes. If you’re going to beat teams like that you have to take advantage of your opportunities and you can’t give them more opportunities than they get on their own. They have a really good defense.”

“They’re just a disciplined group, they play tough and they play well together,” Falk said. “We’ll have our hands full, it’ll be a good opponent for us and it’ll be fun on Saturday.”

“Their offense is based on running (so) just continue to run the ball -- and we’ve just gotta do a good job this week stopping the running back and work on to the QB,” Vaeao said. “I think it’s going to be a big challenge this week compared to any other game. Probably the best o-line we’re going to face in the conference, and we’ve just gotta continue to work hard during practice and get out there and get after them.”

And play ‘em one game at a time.

“The next game is the next biggest thing for us,” said Marks. “It’s kind of cool everything is like (for the first time), so we just try to take it one week at a time and win every game. And if you do that, people will like you for a long time.”

WSU’s players came across as completely unfazed by the news ESPN’s GameDay wouldn’t be coming to Pullman. According to Marks, there was no locker room talk about it before the decision was made, but that he heard it plenty from his fellow students. Falk shared the sentiment, saying that it’s “more for the fans” and that he understands they’re disappointed but the players can’t focus on such things. Vaeao echoed his teammates and had a great quote: “We just try not to focus on ESPN,” he said.  “We just try to focus on what we do, our job, execution, that’s our main focus.”

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