The Cougars are No. 12 nationally, and stand atop the Pac-12 rankings in rush defense, limiting opposing offenses to 104.5 hashes per contest.
So, what does Leach think of this?
“We’ll see if we can be No. 1 this week too, because that will be important,” he said. “This is a 'What have you done for me lately' type of thing. We’re thrilled to death about it on Sunday, but we couldn’t give a damn about it now.”
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That was Leach’s answer when the ranking was first brought up by host Matt Chazanow. However, he sang a much different tune when the topic was brought up a little bit later in the program.
Last week, WSU held UCLA to a miniscule 43 yards on 25 carries. This, after Leach gave high praise to the team from LA for having so much depth in the backfield. The week prior, Stanford could muster only 61 yards on 26 carries.
“Let’s start (with) who’s best, (Royce) Freeman or (Christian) McCaffrey?" said Leach. "They’re two of the best backs in America and not just in the conference. We did respectable things vs. Freeeman, and then did a good job with McCaffrey, and the trio at UCLA. I don’t know which one is scarier of the three they have. One kid looks like Eric Dickerson.
“We’ve done good things against three teams determined to run the ball and they’re doing it with talented running backs. These guys are real. The UCLA guys are dangerous. Three of the running backs of the six (we’ve recently faced) we’ll be watching on Sundays.”
Looking ahead to Saturday, WSU heads to Tempe to take on a 5-2 Arizona State team. The Sun Devils are coming off a 40-16 loss to Colorado, but Leach says the running game is where ASU will look to attack come kickoff.
“They have a lot of diversity there,” he said. “They have the quarterback involved in the run game and there’s a lot of misdirection. They remind me of the Wing-T a lot and I’ve always liked the Wing-T. The biggest thing that strikes me about Arizona State every year is that they’re a fast and flashy team. That hasn’t changed in years. They kind of have an Oregon quality with regard to that.”
At the quarterback position, Manny Wilkins’ status for Saturday is up in the air. Should he not be able to go, the Cougar defense would then likely face freshman Dillon Sterling-Cole. How would WSU’s preparation change?
“The biggest thing is you need to understand that they won’t break off their offensive package,” Leach said. “They put in plays that fits the entire team and the entire offense. You coach around what they do and what they’re inclined to do. If he hasn’t played a lot and they make changes, it could be hard for them to execute. We’ve just got to do what we do and be gap sound.”
Here are more notes from Thursday night’s radio broadcast:
• Have you seen Mike Leach’s Twitter account? It's not all that active. What does he think about that particular social media outlet?
“I’ve got a Twitter, but I dictate most the time," said Leach. "I've got a bunch of followers from what I understand. I dictate it. I first started using it at CBS. The radio and the media are different from the football crowd. My first year (with CBS) they came up to me about Twitter. I hate technology, and I thought I’m sure I’ll hate Twitter. For me, a phone makes calls. And I’ll use it for scoreboards every once in a while.
“My second year (with CBS), a guy comes up to me and says, ‘Look, you’re in the media. How we communicate across the country and promote our programs and do our thing is through Twitter. We would like if you did that too.’”
Leach added: “I told them that if they would have asked, I would have done it. Finally they told me and I had it the next day. I wasn’t disappointed in any way. I typically dictate Twitter to my kids or Dave Emerick (football chief of staff). A lot of people have fun with it. My biggest fear is you get too absorbed with it and never get off of it. It has worked well for me. I still don’t have the hang of it, but I’m glad other people do.”
• A listener tweeted into Leach about Cody O'Connelll and if the Cougs are actively recruiting players like him. He gave a typical Leach response.
“Right now we only have one Cody O’Connell type on our team. I think we have one guy who weighs more than Cody (354 pounds) in Christian Haangana (374) but we’re looking for more. We need as many of them as we can find. If anyone is out there listening and has a big cousin like Cody, please let us know.”