Mike Leach: Jeff Tuel Is Grrrrrreat…But May Not Start Saturday
When Mike Leach was hired as the new head coach for the Washington State Cougars, the one thing we were assured of was great quotes. The exciting brand of football has taken a bit longer to come along on the field, but Leach hasn’t disappointed in his press conferences, and he continued that trend when talking about his quarterback situation going into Week 4 for WSU’s Pac 12 opener.
The Cougars face questions at the quarterback position heading into conference play. Senior Jeff Tuel got the start opening day against the BYU Cougars, but didn’t look that impressive. Then when he got hurt the next week, sophomore Connor Halliday stepped in and closed out the team’s first win of the season.
When Tuel’s knee still hadn’t healed for their Week 3 game against the UNLV Rebels, Halliday got the start. He looked very good for flashes, throwing four first-half touchdowns, including a pair to wide receiver Marquess Wilson. But he had his struggles as well, throwing a pair of interceptions against a bad Rebel defense and failing to get the Coug offense going in the second half.
So with another week of healing, and reports that Tuel had returned to the practice field and was throwing, would the senior signal caller get his starting job back this week? Only Mike Leach knows, and he’s not telling anybody.
When asked who would starting on Saturday at quarterback, Leach replied: “I’m not a guy who tells people the end of a movie if they haven’t seen it, so I’m not going to share it (the quarterback decision) with you. If you want to see how it turns out, you’ve got to come see the movie.”
When asked to evaluate Jeff Tuel, Leach said: “He’s one of those guys that Tony the Tiger would be proud of to be in a commercial and have him eat cereal.” How that helps/hurts his chances of playing? Who knows.
Don’t look for the players to tip their hand on who will be starting against the Colorado Buffaloes, either. Mainly because they have no idea. “We’re not told much, either” Halliday told reporters when asked about the quarterback situation.
In just over a game for both quarterbacks, Halliday has the flashier numbers, going 31-for-56 in completions for 454 yards with four touchdowns to three interceptions. Tuel, who had the much more difficult competition in the season opener, is 50-for-71 for 400 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions.
Whoever gets the start should enjoy a lot of success. The Buffs are coming off a loss to the Fresno State Bulldogs in which they gave up 322 yards and 35 points…in the first quarter. Colorado is struggling all over the field and could be just the team to get the air raid offense of Leach up and running a bit after seeing flashes of it last week in Las Vegas.
So who gets the start? Will it be the Frosted Flakes approved Tuel or the young hurler Halliday? Most people suspect it will be Halliday as Tuel’s knee is still heavily braced, but only Mike Leach knows for sure. And he’s not into spoilers.
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