PULLMAN – Mike Leach holds a law degree, and he seems determined to add a doctorate in psychology.
Washington State’s new football coach appears to have obtained the reaction he was looking for after he accused some of the Cougars of a lack of grit in last week’s opening loss to Brigham Young.
“If you guys are expecting us to sit around and mope for the whole week, you’re wrong, because that’s not what’s going to happen anymore,” quarterback Jeff Tuel said. “Those times are over.”
“We have a coaching staff, we have a school, we have everyone behind us,” safety Deone Bucannon said. “We just need to be confident in ourselves. We’re a great team.”
Leach said he was encouraged by the energy and enthusiasm shown at practice Friday and Sunday (the team did not practice Saturday or Monday). Tuel and Bucannon said they agreed with Leach’s assessment of the team’s lack of fight at BYU.
“We definitely had more than our share of guys having long faces on the sidelines,” Tuel said.
“I definitely agree with Coach,” Bucannon said. “We kind of tucked our tails in early.”
The Washington State and Eastern Washington campuses are only 70 miles apart, but the two schools will square off in football for the first time in more than a century Saturday at WSU’s Martin Stadium (noon, Pac-12 Networks Washington).
WSU won the only previous meetings, 46-0, in 1907 and, 73-0, in 1908. The Eagles are just a tad stronger these days, though they play a notch below the Cougars in the Football Championship Subdivision.
“They fly around; high energy,” Tuel said. “They play with passion. As Coach Leach put it, ‘This is how we want to play.’ ”
Eastern, the 2010 FCS champion, debuted last week with a 20-3 win at Idaho, a Football Bowl Subdivision team. That snapped a 10-game losing streak for Eastern against FBS teams. The Eagles are ranked ninth in the FCS.
Eastern is 0-8 all-time against current Pacific-12 Conference teams. Washington State is 16-0 against FCS teams since 1978 and 27-0 all-time at home against current Big Sky Conference teams.
Tuel plans to improve on those records Saturday with improved performances by himself and the team as a whole.
“I expect a whole different team,” he said.
Linebacker Jeremiah Allison, one of seven true freshmen who played for WSU at Brigham Young, is one of 26 finalists for the National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame High School National Scholar-Athlete Awards.
One high school senior from the 2011-12 school year will be selected from each of five regions in the country. All 26 finalists are now on college football teams.
Allison, a straight-A student all four years at Dorsey High in Los Angeles, recorded 118 tackles (including 23 sacks) to earn all-state first-team honors last year.
Allison played at BYU one week after his mother died in Los Angeles. Allison’s mother never came out of a coma after suffering a heart attack last December.
Less than 800 tickets remain for Saturday’s game at renovated Martin Stadium. WSU has not sold out a football game since 2007. … Xavier Cooper, arguably WSU’s best defensive lineman, went through drills Sunday after warming up but not playing in the opener because of a lingering foot injury. … Leach’s Texas Tech team clobbered Eastern, 49-24, in 2008. The following year, current Eastern quarterback Kyle Padron passed for 280 yards and four touchdowns to lead Southern Methodist to a 35-21 triumph over WSU. … The WSU flag made its 118th consecutive appearance – dating back to 2004 – on ESPN’s “College GameDay” football program last Saturday.
Cougars’ opponent this week
EASTERN WASHINGTON (1-0 OVERALL, 0-0 BIG SKY CONFERENCE)
Noon Saturday, Martin Stadium, Pullman
TV: Pac-12 Networks Washington. Radio: 710-AM, 96.9-FM, 104.3-FM
Coach: Beau Baldwin (34-16, fifth year)
Last year: Finished 6-5 overall, 5-3 in the Big Sky.
Against the Cougars: WSU leads the series, 2-0. The Cougars won, 46-0, in 1907 and, 73-0, in 1908.
Connections: Eastern’s roster is loaded with Puget Sound players, including All-American wide receiver Nicholas Edwards from Foss High School. Baldwin played at Curtis High with tight ends-offensive tackles coach Brian Standley. Offensive line coach Aaron Best also played at Curtis, and linebackers coach Josh Fetter starred at White River High. Defensive end Paul Ena is the son of former WSU standout Tali Ena. Star punter Jake Miller briefly practiced with the Cougars in 2010. Reserve defensive lineman Zachary Johnson is a former WSU walk-on.
Did you know: Edwards led the Football Championship Subdivision with 19 touchdown catches last year.
Scouting report: The Eagles, ranked ninth in the FCS, dominated Idaho in a 20-3 victory last Thursday in Moscow. Kyle Padron, who threw four touchdown passes for Southern Methodist in a 2010 win over WSU, has replaced the quarterback he replaced at SMU (Bo Levi Mitchell). The Eagles have three big, talented wide receivers in Edwards, Greg Herd (Steilacoom High) and Brandon Kaufman. Former Washington Huskies running back Demetrius Bronson is listed as probable after sitting out the opener with a strained hamstring. Ex-Tumwater High standout Zack Johnson, a hard-hitting linebacker, is one of Eastern’s leaders on defense.
Kyle Padron331339.42601 1
Quincy Forte17 66 3.91
Brandon Kaufman 514829.60
Jimmy Pavel2 2 34
Aug. 30won at Idaho, 20-3Saturdayat Washington State
Sept. 22at Weber StateSept. 29Montana
Oct. 6North DakotaOct. 13at Montana State
Oct. 20Sacramento StateOct. 27at Southern Utah
Nov. 3Cal PolyNov. 10UC Davis
Nov. 17at Portland StateHowie Stalwick, contributing writer