Mike Leach says WSU not overlooking Eastern Washington heading into Friday's tilt

DID YOU SEE APPALACHIAN STATE nearly take down No. 9 Tennessee Thursday night? Well, Mike Leach was following that game and during his radio show, the Cougar head man didn’t seem at all surprised. So don’t think for a moment that Leach or any member of his staff is overlooking Eastern Washington as the two programs get ready to face off in Pullman on Saturday.

On paper, yes, Washington State should come out on top of Saturday’s contest vs. the Eagles. But, don’t tell Leach that.

The Cougars, who lost to Portland State in the season opener last season, will face EWU at 5 p.m. on Saturday (Pac-12 Network) and Leach didn’t mince words when asked about preparing for the in-state squad.

“We’ve got to go out and play our best,” Leach said on the radio Thursday night. “Their kids play hard on all sides of the ball and they’re a complete team. The thing with them is that their first-level guys are just as good as our guys. You’ve got to come ready to play because they’ve got good coaches and hungry players.

“You’ve always got to be prepared and be focused. Look at App State, they’re beating Tennessee right now (the game was in the third quarter during Leach’s show). We’ve got to make sure we play our best and not be distracted.”

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When the Cougs and Eagles do face off on Saturday night, Leach added that he’s expecting to see a high-powered Eagles offense, which features star wide receiver Cooper Kupp. 

“They have a plan for what they want to accomplish and they’ve been successful for a long time,” Leach said. “I think there’s a dissatisfaction there from last season and they’re planning on capitalizing on that this year. 

“They’re a quality outfit. Of the teams we play this year, as far as philosophy goes, they’re probably the most similar to us. They’ll be like us and they’ve got probably the best receiver in I-AA (Kupp), who could really play anywhere.”

Here are some more nuggets from Leach’s radio show ...

• Leach spoke highly of both Gabe Marks and Luke Falk for showing leadership throughout fall camp.

“I think they’re doing a good job of bringing the younger guys along,” Leach said. “When going through drills, they’ve kind of been working with those young guys and getting them squared away. I feel like we have a tighter locker room, too, which is key. I think that’s a bigger element than people realize. Chemistry is one of the most important elements for a team.”

• Falk has said he’s a big Tom Brady fan and tries to model his game after the Super Bowl winning QB. Leach’s reaction?

“Sometimes he’s really dedicated like Brady, but he reminds me more of a Kenny Stabler,” Leach said. “His personality doesn’t fit with Kenny. He fits there with what I know of Tom Brady. Luke’s a big New England Patriots fan. He’s on the edge of his seat for those games.

“Luke does a good job of managing the game. What he does a good job of and it doesn’t show up in the stat sheet, is he does a good job of holding things together.”

• Who does Marks remind Leach of?

“Not a specific guy,” the Cougar head man said. “He’s unique. He’s a guy who is just excited to play, whether its offense or defense. If someone makes a play, Gabe is excited and it’s a genuine excitement. He’s so engaged with the game and the nuances. It rubs off on others. He’s very invested in the team.”

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