Leach remained critical of Cougars on his weekly radio show, had some strong words about Gabe Marks' play

IF YOU WERE expecting to hear Mike Leach praise his players during his radio show on Thursday night, you were tuning in to the wrong station. Instead, Leach was downright critical of his team, now 0-2 on the season. The Washington State head man didn’t discuss the Pullman police or Cougar players' troubles with the law. So what did he say?

That this team needs to get its act together.

Plain and simple, Washington State has underperformed this season and its 0-2 record backs that up. The most recent hiccup was a 31-28 loss at Boise State last week. 

That game, of course, started with a Luke Falk pick-six on the Cougs’ opening drive.

“Something is always going to happen in the game,” Leach said. “The only thing guaranteed in a game is adversity and the important thing is how you respond. I thought we were mixed. It was okay, but I thought we played disjointed. 

“We improved defensively and got three turnovers. I thought that was good. But we marched the ball over the field the entire day and had too little to show for it. Statistically, we should have put a lot more points than 28 for that.”

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In the losing effort, redshirt senior Gabe Marks caught 10 passes for 75 yards and a touchdown. Leach wasn’t the least bit impressed with his showing, though. 

“I think he played well, but he better play better (Saturday,” Leach said. “He and the other skill position guys didn’t run precise routes. I don’t think we did a good job of going upfield after we caught the ball. We’re one of the easiest teams in America to tackle and we run out of bounds whenever we can. Some of them were creative on how they got out of bounds because it looked near impossible for them to do it.” 

One player Leach did shout out in particular on offense was sophomore wide receiver Tavares Martin. The 6-1, 185-pounder from Florida had a career day, hauling in 12 receptions for 158 yards and a 50-yard touchdown.

“I thought it was the best game he’s played for us,” Leach said. “I thought Tavares played well. He was probably better than any of our other skill players.”

Shalom Luani, who was out for the Week One loss vs. Eastern Washington, had two interceptions against the Broncos. He was the player Leach said was the strongest on D.

“He did a lot of good things,” Leach said. “He does a good job of holding our secondary together. He’s the key guy back there. He was a bright spot in the game for us and we need more guys like him.”

Here are more notes from Leach’s radio show: 

• Leach noted that he was pleased with the way the running backs performed, but said that Jamal Morrow was “spotty” at times. He also said that he’d like to start getting James Williams some more touches. Williams was elevated on this week's depth chart to No. 2 behind Morrow, with Gerard Wicks not listed on the chart.

• How did the offensive line do? “We pass-protected respectably, but we were soft on the run game,” Leach said.

• When asked who the toughest guys he’s ever coached, Leach mentioned Cougars Deone Bucannon and Travis Long, and Red Raider Wes Welker. On Long, Leach said: “Had he not gotten injured, he’d be in the NFL. He was explosive and passionate. There were times he didn’t have a lot of help here with people who wanted to play hard, but he always wanted to play hard.”

• Marks is chasing former Colorado WR Nelson Spruce for the Pac-12’s all-time leader in career receptions. In his typical fashion, Leach said Marks shouldn’t be worried about that. “If we can get him to play as hard as he did last year and focus like he did last year then he might have a chance. If the thinks too much about that stuff, it won’t do him any good. I think all he needs to worry about is the next play and do that to the best of his ability. When he retires and he sits in a rocking chair, he can talk with his grandkids about that. Any temptation by him to lose sight and focus on that would be a mistake.”


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