SALT LAKE CITY – Mike Leach says he wasn’t good enough to play big-time college football, so he can’t stand watching players waste the chance to play at a Pacific-12 Conference school like Washington State.
“I can’t fathom on any level how you work at anything and then come out and not even try,” the first-year Cougars coach said.
Leach was referring specifically to the Cougars’ 49-6 face-plant against Utah on Saturday. All season, however, Leach has questioned the grit of some of his players – some of whom, he promises, won’t be back next year.
“If you have to beg an 18- to 22-year-old kid to give a good effort, you’re dealing with the wrong individual,” Leach said.
NOT ALL BAD
A little bit of searching was needed, but some good came from Saturday’s game from a Washington State perspective.
Marquess Wilson, who did not start for the second straight game while Leach pushes the junior wide receiver to work harder, moved up to ninth in Pac-12 history with 3,207 receiving yards.
Senior linebacker-defensive end Travis Long nabbed his first career interception, and junior cornerback Anthony Carpenter made a career-high 11 tackles.
Utah flooded the field with reserves in the second half, but the Utes showed questionable sportsmanship when they ran for two points to make the score 39-0 in the opening minute of the second half.
“I could care less,” Leach said. He added, “If we’re too stupid to line up to it, it’s our own damn fault.”
The Cougars gave up a season-high 49 points and tied their season low of six points for the third time. Time had expired at the end of the game when the Cougars finally scored Saturday, so no conversion attempt was allowed.
None of Leach’s 10 Texas Tech teams were shut out. Of course, none of them played 16 freshmen like the 2012 Cougars. It’s also unlikely that any of Leach’s Tech teams had four games with negative rushing yards like WSU.
Leach and WSU players said Utah’s defense presented no surprises, but Utah defensive players begged to differ.
“The package we ran was a great call by our coaches,” defensive lineman Joe Kruger said.
“We came out in a little bit different scheme than they’re used to,” linebacker Trevor Reilly said. “We hadn’t run it this year.
“It may have caused some confusion on the offensive line and with the quarterback. We lined up in an odd front most of the game.”
Reilly signed a letter of intent with Leach’s Texas Tech Red Raiders out of high school, but he wound up going on a Mormon mission and never played for Tech. Reilly said he’s “indebted” to Leach – “He’s a great guy” – for giving him his first scholarship offer.
MISSING IN ACTION
Gino Simone, Teondray Caldwell, Leon Brooks and Isiah Myers did not play for WSU. The Cougars do not disclose injuries.
Special-teams player and backup safety Feddie Davey left the field on crutches with his left knee wrapped.
As of late Thursday afternoon, the Cougars still had more than 1,000 tickets available for the Apple Cup with Washington. The game will played on Friday, Nov. 23 – the day after Thanksgiving – at WSU’s Martin Stadium.
Approximately 2,500 tickets were still available for the Dad’s Weekend game next Saturday against UCLA. TV arrangements haven’t been finalized, so there’s still no game time.