WSU plans to bring mental toughness to the Vandals

The Battle of the Palouse is coming to Martin Stadium this week when the Cougars take on the Vandals for the first time in three years.

After starting the season winless, football Head Coach Mike Leach expressed his frustration with the team’s maturity at a press conference Monday.

“Right now, we have the atmosphere of a JC softball game,” Leach said. “That’s what we are, a JC softball team. It’s not whether you win or lose, it’s the team that wins is the one that has the most fun. All the crap like that. All the stuff that’s contaminated America where they give every kid a trophy and they don’t keep score in Little League anymore.”

Just hours after Leach made those comments about the immaturity of his team, the drama off the field continued. News broke out that another football player was arrested by the Pullman Police Department.

WSU sophomore linebacker Logan Tago was arrested for 2nd degree robbery and assault. The incident happened this summer when Tago and a group of people allegedly mugged a 23-year-old Pullman man for a case of beer June 4, according to a report from

It is not known whether Tago will play Saturday, but if he’s similarly disciplined to how Shalom Luani was when he was arrested for allegedly assaulting a 20-year-old WSU student, the recently listed first string rush linebacker won’t be suiting up against the Vandals Saturday.

Tago has recorded seven tackles with four against Eastern Washington University. The team will deal with this matter internally.

All eyes are on the Cougars (0-2) this week after they failed to bounce back with a win against Boise State last week, losing back-to-back games by three points this season. The Cougars will look to improve its mental and physical toughness to establish their first win against Idaho.

“This is kind of bragging rights for the Palouse I guess,” WSU redshirt senior defensive back Parker Henry said. “We know that they’re going to bring it as hard as they can and we are too.”

Idaho (1-1) traveled to Seattle last week to face the Washington Huskies (2-0) and lost 59-14, but do not be fooled by the score. The Vandals put up an impressive fight led by Idaho redshirt freshman quarterbacks Gunnar Amos and freshman Mason Petrino against the Huskies. Petrino led with 48 yards on nine carries.

Idaho freshman linebacker Kaden Elliss forced a fumble on a sack of UW sophomore quarterback Jake Browning that put pressure on the Huskies early in the game. The Cougars have struggled to match that aggressiveness in their first two games, making it difficult to outplay their opponents and finish the game with a victory.

“It starts with mental toughness,” WSU junior running back Jamal Morrow said. “The physical toughness part is going to come. We need to focus on ourselves and take it one day at a time, one practice at a time.”

Looking ahead to week three, Henry said that the biggest defensive step for improvement is consistency by being able to replicate those three and out drives.

In 2013 the Cougars blew out the Vandals with a 42-0 loss that caused tensions on and off the field. Leach and Idaho Head Coach Paul Petrino shared some unpleasant words over a postgame handshake.

Coming out this season without a win under their belt, the Cougars have a lot to improve on if they want to beat the Vandals (1-1).

“Mentally if we feel like were soft one play and didn’t use the right technique, you got to get on yourself first,” Henry said. “And then if you see one of your teammates doing that as well, you got to be able to step up.”

Kickoff is set for 11 a.m. Saturday at Martin Stadium. The game will broadcast live on Pac-12 Network.