Mike Leach: Friday's Apple Cup loss got out of control as Cougars fishtail in second half

SEATTLE – Is Washington 35 points better than No. 20 Washington State? Probably not, but when things get out of control as they did Friday in the Cougars' 45-10 Apple Cup loss, the momentum is almost impossible to corral.

“It’s like fishtailing down a road or something like that,” Mike Leach said. “Then one thing leads to the next, leads to the next, leads to the next. That was us today.”

Sophomore offensive tackle Cole Madison offered up a similar sentiment.

“It was a snowball effect,” Madison said. “Once something bad happened, it just kept on happening. We should have changed it and never did. Snowball effect the rest of the game.”

The Cougs were without starting quarterback Luke Falk  and backup Peyton Bender struggled against the Pac-12’s top scoring defense,  accounting for four turnovers, two on interceptions, two on fumbles.

But Leach was predictably dismissive of the notion that Bender’s inexperience itself was a valid explanation for his team’s implosion, saying that he felt that the Cougs were simply unprepared across the board.

“One of the biggest steps as a team is you have to move past (injuries),” Leach said. “You have to have the toughness to transcend that. The thing about it is, all you guys (the media) want to b---- about injuries and you can continue to b---- if you want to because I really don’t care. I have nothing to gain by talking about them.

“But the biggest thing is you can’t sit and provide yourself excuses. You tell guys to focus on their job, what they do and then all of the sudden you indulge in this and that and hypotheticals and all of the sudden you naturally give everyone an excuse. There ain’t no excuse.”

Bender, for his part, didn’t shy away from accepting his share of responsibility for his turnover-riddled afternoon.

“Yeah, if you turn over the ball seven times, it’s going to be hard to win,” Bender said. “I put a lot of that on me. I made two bad interceptions. I’ve just got to hold onto the ball a little bit stronger in the pocket.”

The redshirt sophomore was put in an admittedly tough position, making his first career start in a big-time rivalry game in front of a raucous Husky Stadium crowd of 70,438. But Leach insisted that his team should have put on a more competitive showing, with or without Falk on the field.

“Luke chose not to play today and we chose for that to be the case,” Leach said. “But you know what? The University of Washington has somebody over there injured. I don’t know who he is and I really don’t care. Somebody on the next team and the next team is going to be injured. That’s just the way it is. We have to worry about us and what we can do. Sitting there dwelling on crap like that doesn’t help anybody.”


Notable notes

  • Wide receiver Gabe Marks went down in the second half with a leg injury after his leg buckled on an awkward tackle. Marks caught seven passes for 58 yards Friday. This season, Marks leads the Cougars with 99 receptions for  1,125 yards and 14 touchdowns. 

  • With the victory, UW won its third consecutive Apple Cup and sixth of the past seven. UW leads the all time series 70-32-6.

  • Despite the deflating loss, the Cougs finished the season with an 8-4 record, their best mark since 2003. WSU had just nine wins in the previous two seasons combined.

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