The Cougars were the top unranked team in both polls, receiving 84 and 93 votes in the AP and Coaches, respectively.
After starting the year 0-2, WSU has rattled off five straight victories including a 4-0 mark in Pac-12 play. This has undoubtedly caught the attention of the voters and fans -- but would a nod in the top 25 be of importance to Leach and staff? Surely, Leach and Co. would use it on the recruiting trail, right?
"You know, I don’t pay a lot of attention to it,” Leach said during his radio show on Thursday night. “It’s all a bi-product of paying attention to individual plays. You do it well, then you add it all up. It’s easy for folks to distract themselves with rankings and this and that. You forget about the important stuff to get you there. It is good being ranked and you like being ranked, but you can't focus on it."
With wins over Oregon, Stanford, UCLA and Arizona State In the last four games, WSU’s stock has soared. A win over Oregon State on the road this weekend would give them six wins and render the Cougs bowl eligible.
“We’ve played some incredibly talented teams,” Leach said. “We’ve evolved as far as playing together and being sequenced together. We’re just playing better, it’s as simple as that. I think that also a lot of it has to do with the Pac-12 having so much quality. Everyone is pretty good. Whoever is the worst team in the Pac-12 is still pretty good.”
Leach was more than happy to discuss the play of Robert Taylor. The Cougar rookie out of San Francisco CC took back a kickoff 100 yards at Arizona State for a touchdown. It was the first kickoff return for score by WSU since 2003 (Sammy Moore, Colorado).
“Honestly, we kind of expected him to break one sooner than he did,” Leach deadpanned. “We thought it would be a block here, or a cut there. He’s explosive and elusive. When we put him back there, there was a bit of a learning curve.”
Radio host Matt Chazanow pointed out that the NCAA caps returns at 100 yards, regardless of where the ball is returned from the end zone.
“Here at Washington State, we don’t,” Leach quipped. “That was a 107-yard return. We’re the only ones that grant that and it’s the longest in Pac-12 history. We’re glad to have that record and I’m glad Robert has it and no one else does.”
Leach’s reply set off plenty of laughter from those on hand at Zeppos last night.
Here are more notes from Leach’s show:
• If you were hoping to hear Leach talk about the Robert Barber suspension, you were out of luck. You were also out of luck if you wanted to hear Leach break down the OSU offense or defense “I don’t talk about the opponent,” Leach said, contiuing a theme he's held onto all week. “I’m going to go ahead and keep my thoughts to myself at risk of getting a public reprimand or fine. We’ve just got to worry about ourselves. We have to do our jobs effectively and be the best we can be.”
• Have you noticed WSU is using the shovel pass a little more often in its offense? “We’ve done it for years,” Leach said. “We put it on the shelf for a little bit and we tinkered around a little bit. There was a guy running a bunch of Air Raid stuff and doing a good job with it at Sam Houston State. We started talking and picking each other’s brains. Long story short, we put it back in.” INCYMI, for more on the WSU shovel pass, CLICK HERE.
• How does Leach feel about SEC playing eight league games instead of nine? “I think any of the BCS leagues/Power 5 should play the same number of conference games. I think there should also be the same number of teams in each conference.”
• Also of note, WSU WR John Thompson arrived to Zeppos last night to sneak in some frames before the weekend. He received a loud applace from the fans on hand. “I think he wants to be a pro bowler,” Leach said. “He probably hits 160 or something. He’s been practicing. During the Apple Cup, we do Thanksgiving dinner here and the guys bowl.”