Leach responds to reports on player incidents

PULLMAN - Mike Leach overshadowed Tuesday practice with a prepared statement addressing coverage of off-the-field incidents involving WSU football players.

The recent news of Logan Tago’s arrest has provided a tipping point for Mike Leach.

Uncharacteristic of the WSU head man, he addressed the media after practice on Tuesday reading from prepared notes regarding the three recent incidents involving Washington State football players.

Leach claims that statements made to the media have distorted facts related to ongoing investigations.

"Comments to the media have distorted the facts and already condemned football players in the court of public opinion," says Leach. "I'm going to do what I should have done in the first place which is presume them innocent until proven guilty."

Leach went on to say that many of the allegations are “fractionally accurate” and “totally false”.

MUST SEE: CFC TV: Mike Leach points to arrest red flags

As for Tago, the second year rush linebacker was in pads and working with the defense on Tuesday as he has all year. Tago and Dylan Hanser are the two players rotating in at rush for the Cougs right now. Both Tago and Hanser have shared about an equal amount of game reps this year.

Moving on to Washington State's Tuesday work on the practice field, second-year freshman running back James Williams was moved up behind Jamal Morrow to the No. 2 spot on the depth chart released Monday. His reps in practice reflected that promotion as he saw a handful of carries and was the target on multiple plays through the air.

Last week’s game against BSU wasn’t much of a highlight night for Cougar running backs, but Williams showed some impressive pickups on the ground and in the screen game. The Cougs managed a whopping 40-yards on the ground as a team. My guess is that we will see a lot more of what he can do this week when WSU takes on Idaho in Martin Stadium (Pac-12 Network, 11am).

Not only do I think that we’ll see more of Williams, but from what I saw in practice I think that we’ll see more of the running game than usual. And I don’t call the plays or make checks at the line, but after a second look at last weeks’ game it's clear to me that Boise State didn’t have much respect for the WSU run game. I say that because the only defenders that seemed to key on the run were the three down lineman and occasionally an inside linebacker. Everyone else dropped straight back into their zones anticipating a pass play on every down. That worked out quite favorably for the Broncos considering that WSU only ran the ball 15 times versus their 71 pass attempts.

For the most part, BSU lined up with three defensive linemen and only brought pressure from those three. I know it’s the Air Raid, but with the looks Luke Falk was getting, it seems odd to me that more run checks weren’t called.

Here is a log of the total amount of run plays on each drive last week, how many rushing yards were gained on those runs and the result of the drive:

1.     12 plays, 3 runs – 15 yards – INT

2.     6 plays, 0 runs – 0 yards – PUNT

3.     11 plays, 2 runs – 0 yards – PUNT

4.     9 plays, 1 run – 2 yards – FGA (blocked)

5.     4 plays, 1 run – 2 yards – PUNT

6.     6 plays, 2 runs – 7 yards – Touchdown

7.     7 plays, 1 run – 8 yards – PUNT

8.     14 plays, 3 runs – 8 yards – DOWNS

9.     2 plays, 0 runs – 0 yards – Touchdown

10.  10 plays, 1 run – 2 yards – Touchdown

11.  8 plays, 2 runs – 0 yards – DOWNS

12.  1 play, 0 runs – 0 yards – Touchdown

13.  6 plays, 0 runs – 0 yards – DOWNS

It’s possible that Williams and Morrow are a stronger attack at running back right now because of their ball skills and elusiveness – but even then, utilizing their talent would mean handing them the ball more often. I think that will happen this week.

I don’t have the magic answer for the Cougs right now, but I probably would have run the ball three times in a row on some of those drives just to see what happens. Maybe the defense starts to respect the run game a little more – or maybe one of WSU’s stud running backs breaks off for a huge gain. I’m not suggesting a change in the offense, but sometimes you just have to take what the defense gives you.

Because of Boise State’s defensive strategy, they did a great job of taking away the Cougars deep and intermediate routes. They forced Falk to make the short throw, then rallied to the football to stop yards after the catch. That sounds a lot like something I’ve heard from a coach – maybe the WSU defensive coordinator Alex Grinch?

It’s a great philosophy if you can execute it correctly and that’s exactly what the Broncos did.

After watching the game on replay I picked up some things I didn’t see live. One thing was certain though, the first three quarters of offense looked ugly. There wasn’t much brilliance other than a few prayers thrown up to Tavares Martin, Gabe Marks, and Morrow.

Something just wasn’t clicking for the Cougar offense and whatever caused that hopefully has been addressed so that the Cougs can get it going in the right direction this week in practice.

If WSU somehow manages to struggle against the Vandals, they might have more issues than we all thought. Hopefully that’s not the case and the Cougs can get back in the winning column with a big victory this week.

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