The Washington State Cougars had plenty of things to look at following their dud of a season opener against BYU and had plenty of things to work on heading into their home opener this weekend against Eastern Washington University. One of the key things, according to Mike Leach, is correcting the bad body language and sulking that WSU players took part in as things went south.
One of the lasting images from the Cougars loss in Provo will be wide receiver Marquess Wilson losing his composure as the game got worse and worse. Wilson, picked as one of the top wide receivers in the Pac 12, had two big plays, including a touchdown catch before halftime, wiped out due to penalties. Then as Wazzu tried to mount one last rally, quarterback Jeff Tuel scrambled before throwing the ball to nobody while Wilson stood by himself with his hands raised above his head in frustration.
Wilson was not alone. All up and down the sideline, Cougar players moped as things went sour with more long faces than Leach would have liked to see. According to the coach, WSU “spent more time putting on little frustration demonstrations than…playing football,” which Leach recognizes as a problem. Moving forward, the Palouse Pirate will have no patience for sad-sack players on his sideline. “I won’t hesitate to send some guy to the locker room if he’s just sitting on the sideline pouting,” says Leach, who has a long-held philosophy that football is a fleeting experience, so every play should get your best effort.
His quarterback, Jeff Tuel, agrees. The senior recognized his own failings in WSU’s week one loss, and says he also recognized the long faces on the sideline of a team that was getting down on themselves. He has vowed to step up his leadership role to prevent that kind of mindset from taking root again. “Those times are over,” according to the senior signal-caller.
While the Cougars took a beating on the scoreboard, they looked like the biggest hit they took was to their confidence. This is a team that has experienced a lot of losing in recent memory, but can’t fall into a funk if they want to turn it around. Coach Leach is going to fix that in a hurry, saying that the biggest adjustments moving forward will be attitude and effort on every single play. So even if the Cougars get down the rest of this season, don’t expect them to look so down going forward.
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