CFC TV: As Grinch book grows, message clearer

PULLMAN — Washington State linebackers coach Ken Wilson jokes he can write a book with the number of euphemisms and breadth of terminology first-year defensive coordinator Alex Grinch brings to the defense.

But as that book grows, the message just gets clearer and clearer.

“It’s awesome. We try to keep up with it, I tell him I’m writing a book all the time and the chapters are getting longer and longer,” Wilson said following Tuesday’s practice at Martin Stadium. “They’re great, because he stays on message. He tells the guys what they need to hear, not what they want to hear. He just keeps pushing and pushing and pushing and you see the results on the field.”

Washington State’s defense has improved to give up 11 less points per contest than it did last season under former DC Mike Breske, while creating 20 turnovers - 12 more than last season.

The Cougs should be able to put up points whether or not Luke Falk commands the Cougars’ Air Raid attack on Friday afternoon at Husky Stadium, but it’s the defense that gives many fans confidence in the chances of No. 20 Washington State to take back the Apple Cup for the first time since 2012.

“I don’t think we’ve done anything different from what we’ve installed in spring and fall,” defensive line coach Joe Salave’a said. “The biggest difference is efficient movement, not wasting all kinds of movement and steps. When you’re efficient and precise, you’re going to have some success. That’s credit to the kids and the guys doing a better job of self-scouting and their technique week in and week out.”

The Cougars’ vastly improved defense will present problem’s for Washington’s at-times struggling offense. Washington’s Jake Browning will be the fourth freshman quarterback to face the Cougars this season — Oregon State’s Seth Collins, Colorado’s Cade Aspay and UCLA’s Josh Rosen all fell to the Cougars.

“We’ve faced a bunch of freshman quarterbacks. They’re all really good players, they’re highly recruited guys,” Wilson said. “You can see he’s getting better every week, he’s making better reads, throwing the ball much better, just another in the long line of freshman quarterbacks we’ve faced.”

More notes from practice
--Wilson addressed the movement the Cougars have made at the Nickel position, notably Shalom Luani and Darrien Molton coming down from their safety spots. 

“We play a lot of guys at those positions, we move our guys around to whatever we’re playing and whatever defense we’re playing and just use our best. Whatever we can do the put the best guys in right spots is what we’re doing,” Wilson said.

--I asked Salave’a about Gunnar Eklund’s comment about how the Huskies won’t outhit the Cougs and if that mentality transitioned to the defensive line as well.

“I don’t know, I’m so consumed about our guys and our preparation that I don’t have any time to address another team’s skill level,” Salave’a said. “The biggest thing is from when we started this whole deal, we have to be physical and violent able to attack the line of scrimmage. That’s our job up front. If we do that, we’ll continue to have success.

"In terms of talent evaluation, I don’t know what they have, I just have to continue to work on getting our guys prepared.”

--As for Mike Leach’s availability after practice, he thought the Cougs had an “above average day.”



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