Not too high, not too low, just another week

Cougars’ loss to EWU isn’t on their minds this time around



Redshirt junior running back James Williams attempts to leap over San Jose State senior cornerback John Toussaint on Sept. 8 in Martin Stadium.

JACKSON GARDNER, Evergreen reporter

Head Coach Mike Leach has a philosophy that in order to be a successful football team, all you can do is be focused on Saturday’s game.

Not last week’s game, or the week ahead and certainly not a game from two seasons ago. And Leach has his players on board with that idea.

Does the Cougars’ 42-45 shootout-style loss to Eastern Washington University two years ago leave a bad taste in their mouth? According to senior nickelback Hunter Dale it does, but that isn’t the focus this week. That focus is reserved for getting better.

“A nasty taste,” Dale said when asked about what came to mind when he thinks about the game against the Eagles two seasons ago. “You never like losing, especially against an in-state school.”

Then, being the levelheaded senior he is, he followed up on this.

“But I mean, that was two years ago and something that we’re not going to think about or even have in the back our heads that we lost that game,” Dale said. “But we can’t think of this as a revenge game because it’s just another game on the schedule.”

There isn’t any extra motivation for the team leading to Saturday. That just gets back to Leach’s philosophy: If you need extra motivation for week three, then what’s going on weeks four through 12?

The energy and tempo needs to be consistently at a high level, and you don’t get that from hand-picking games out of the schedule to get amped up for.
It’s just about the next week.

WSU isn’t spiteful from the game two years ago. It’s football — you’re not going to win every game. And the calm, cool and collected attitude from the seniors on WSU’s side embodies just that.

When senior cornerback Darrien Molton was asked whether he was using any of the bitterness from the loss two years ago, he gave a little cringe of the brow, as if to say no, that would be silly, why would I do that? But his answer came in the calm manner that it usually does.

“No, I’m just taking this as another game,” he said. “So no.”

The more extroverted leaders on the team may share a different opinion, like graduate transfer quarterback Gardner Minshew II, who, if you couldn’t tell from the “graduate transfer” was not here for the 2016 game against EWU. He thinks the Cougs have something to prove.

“We definitely have a chip on our shoulder and have something to prove with them coming to town,” Minshew said. “We look forward to the challenge, we know they have a good team and we’re really looking forward to playing them.”

Whether you’re Molton and it’s just another game or you’re Minshew and you think your guys have a chip on their shoulder, the focus is all the same: on Saturday’s game.