Washington State football coach Mike Leach and defensive coordinator Mike Breske said they agreed with the Pacific-12 Conference’s decision to suspend Cougars strong safety Deone Bucannon for the first half of Friday’s game at UNLV for a late hit Saturday against Eastern Washington wide receiver Greg Herd.
“It was a lot of steps before he hit him,” Breske said. “That wasn’t called for.”
“I can see where action was justified,” Leach said. “We shouldn’t have done it.”
Bucannon, WSU’s leading tackler, hit Herd high after a pass sailed over the senior wide receiver’s head in the fourth quarter. The Eagles said Herd, a former Steilacoom High School standout, suffered a concussion.
Leach said coaches showed players tape of Bucannon’s hit Sunday and made “a major point of it.” Leach said Bucannon, whom Breske termed “an all-Pac 12 player,” was put through “some fairly lengthy maneuvers” as punishment.
In a statement, Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott said, “In order to appropriately protect our student-athletes, it is imperative that we monitor and, when needed, act in situations where a blow to the head of a defenseless player was flagrant and/or unwarranted, especially in situations where the hit occurred well after the play was over.”
Breske said former starting free safety Tyree Toomer, Casey Locker and starting free safety Taylor Taliulu will handle safety duties in the first half Friday. WSU (1-1) and UNLV (0-2) play on ESPN at 6 p.m.
Starting quarterback Jeff Tuel replaced a knee brace with a wrap and saw very limited action in practice Tuesday.
Connor Halliday again handled most of the quarterback work with the No. 1 offense.
Bucannon was not made available to the media this week. During game weeks, Leach typically limits media access to players to three selected individuals on Mondays.