SPOKANE, Wash. – The Mike Leach era at Washington State finally reaches the football field on Thursday with the opening of spring drills.
Leach was hired in November to bring his high-powered passing attack to Washington State, which has posted a 9-40 record over the previous four seasons, and he said Wednesday that it won’t take long to install that offensive package.
“I think we’ll probably have a pretty good semblance of it probably after four practices,” Leach said from Pullman during a conference call with reporters.
“The idea is not to make it overcomplicated. The bulk of the time you want to spend developing your skills.”
It helps that quarterbacks Jeff Tuel and Connor Halliday both started last year before being knocked out by injuries. The pair will split repetitions evenly in spring drills as Leach and his staff evaluate their talents.
“The most basic is, ‘Does the guy make good decisions?’ ” Leach said when asked how he evaluates quarterbacks. “The second is, ‘Is he accurate?’
“Those two you can’t compromise.”
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After that he looks at factors like size, arm strength, quick feet and speed.
Leach said he is confident in both quarterbacks, which was reflected in the fact that they did not bring in a junior college transfer.
Leach said he is not nervous about getting back on the field after two years out of coaching.
“It’s the same as it always is,” Leach said. “The anxiety would be how can we best teach this and be most efficient with our time.”
Leach was asked about reports that filmmaker Peter Berg was thinking of making a documentary series about his return to football. Leach said he has not heard if the project has been approved for production, after Berg spent a couple days doing test shoots in Pullman.
“It would be a lot of fun,” Leach said. “Everybody would learn a little bit.”
Leach was hired in November to replace Paul Wulff, who was fired after four losing seasons.
The 50-year-old Leach was 84-43 at Texas Tech, leading the Red Raiders to 10 bowl appearances in 10 seasons. He was fired in 2009 amid allegations he mistreated a player with a concussion.
Out of coaching the past two seasons, Leach put out two books, worked in television and hosted a satellite radio show.
Washington State has 47 returning lettermen from last year’s squad.
They return six starters on offense, including star wide receiver Marquess Wilson. Three starters from the offensive line, John Fullington, Matt Goetz, and Dan Spitz, return, along with senior Wade Jacobson, who missed much of last season after starting 11 games in 2010.
Veteran running backs Carl Winston and Rickey Galvin are also back.
They have seven returning starters on defense, including defensive ends Travis Long and Lenard Williams, and defensive tackle Anthony Laurenzi. All three of the starting linebackers from 2011 have departed, but the secondary returns all four starters, including cornerbacks Damante Horton and Nolan Washington and safeties Tyree Toomer and Deone Bucannon.
The Cougars will practice Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays at Rogers Field with the Crimson and Gray Game set for April 21 at Joe Albi Stadium in Spokane.
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