WSU keeps workmen attitude despite hype going to the Arizona game

It was business as usual for Washington State football Head Coach Mike Leach and some of his players at yesterday’s press conference, which, in accordance with such a mentality, probably explains the collective indifference toward being viewed as the underdog in Saturday’s game at Arizona.

Enough positivity has come to the program after two straight conference wins over both Oregon state schools to put the Cougars at 4-2, with a 2-1 mark in Pac-12 play. Though it has widely been talked about in the locker room that the team was just a play or two away against No. 23 Cal – a couple lapses in concentration – from quite plausibly being 3-0 in conference play. This is not lost on the WSU headman.

“There’s a more focused effort in practice (now),” Leach said. “We’re a ways off from where we should be in terms of attention to details.”

In accordance to the first-half pasting the Cougars gave Oregon State on Saturday in their 52-31 win, Leach credited redshirt sophomore quarterback Luke Falk and his development since Week 1 as a catalyst in implementing the quick tempo his offense operated at.

“I think he just sorts it out quicker,” Leach said. “He’s not pondering the mysteries of life out there. I think he’s going out and reacting quicker.”

Falk, who completed 39-50 passes for 407 yards and six touchdowns (all in the first half), was in agreement with his head coach that such efficiency comes with a synchronized effort including all 11 players. Concurrently, the former walk-on from Logan, Utah, gave ample credit to the team’s three running backs and Jamal Morrow in particular.

“I think all three of them bring a little something different to the table for us, they all have the potential to play well on any given day,” Falk said. “And they have this year, all three of them have played good on different days. I think there’s an element of selflessness between them. Whenever (their) number gets called, they’re ready to go.”

Morrow, a redshirt sophomore who led the team in rushing yards last year and also tallied the fourth most receiving yards, found the end zone for the first time against the Beavers, catching 8 and 23-yard passes from Falk in the first half.

“It was amazing,” Morrow said of finally scoring. “Just a weight lifted off your shoulders. A huge relief to finally get in.”

Not being bothered by splitting carries and receptions between fellow running backs redshirt sophomore Gerard Wicks and redshirt freshman Keith Harrington, Morrow maintained that part of operating the air raid to success is being flexible.

“As a running back in this offense, you have to be able to do it all,” Morrow said. “It’s just part of what you have to do in this offense.”

Even as the media spotlight has begun to shine on the Cougars following a revitalizing two weeks for the program, it was clear Monday that the team has adopted the mentality of its coach. Beginning in his tenure at Texas Tech, Leach has always operated a no-nonsense, take-no-prisoners system, and this year’s Cougars appear to be buying in at the halfway point.

Their opponent may have itself a quarterback controversy at the moment – redshirt Anu Solomon was pulled from the team’s 38-31 win over Colorado on Saturday – and it may be without last year’s Nagurski award winner Scobey Wright III, but the Cougars know there is work to be done in preparation for Saturday. As Leach says, it always starts with effort.