Mike Leach took an opportunity Monday to call out his players – once again – saying, most notably, the receiving corps made too many mistakes and needs to do better in key situations.
Leach said the team needs "toughness". A reporter asked him what he means by that:
"I'm talking about the toughness that allows someone who's had a football thrown at them not hundreds of times but thousands of times in a row, where they've had a reasonably high level of success, then all of a sudden in some key situation it's thrown at them and it would hit them in the face if their hands weren't in the way, and then they drop it. I'm talking about that kind of toughness."
Speaking about the receivers, Leach answered a question as to whether there are some "mental toughness issues" at play:
"How do you drop four balls? Because if your hands weren't in the way they'd hit you in the face!"
He also addressed the quarterback situation, saying Jeff Tuel would practice with the first team this week:
"We're just trying to see who moves the offense the best. [Jeff Tuel and Connor Halliday] have been kind of playing leapfrog over one another…. We need a guy that will take the position, hang onto it and go."
Jeff Tuel tried to explain the inconsistencies with the offense this year, and seemed to point the finger at the lofty expectations set by fans and players alike when Leach arrived in Pullman.
"You have to understand that just because Mike Leach is your head coach and it's his offense doesn't mean that everything is going to be perfect. It's not like he's going to snap his fingers and every ball is going to be complete and every single read is going to be great. It's everybody's first year in the system and we've learned a lot of things…. There are a lot reasons. There are a lot of people, even the players that came into the team this year as, ‘we're all good, we got Mike Leach, we're going to throw for 1,000-yards a game'. But in reality we still have to work…"
Defensively, defensive back Daniel Simmons talked about the expectations, too.
"From a team aspect, I expected a lot more. Just coming up short, situations in games. That hurts. I just expected to pretty much win. So much work put in, and I've been through it all. I just expected to kind of cash that check so to speak…. I just expected to get Ws. From a personal standpoint, I feel like I've done a good job. There's room from improvement, I'm always striving to do better than I did the previous week. But I'm just looking to progress and end on a good note."
And Simmons said the Cougars are close to becoming the team they want to be and can be:
"Definitely. I definitely feel that way. As coach Leach says, it's just a few plays away and we watch film and we see that. I guess we're looking for answers to get over that hump. It's just a small margin that we need to fill in. It's offensively and defensively."