No radioactive quotes Saturday night from Washington State coach Mike Leach, nothing like the one the other day about an “empty-corpse quality” he ascribed to some of his seniors in addressing their leadership.
But after the Cougars lost to Cal, 31-17, Leach was obviously nonplussed about his quarterback position. The guess here is that he’d like Connor Halliday to win the thing, simply because as a sophomore, he represents more of the future of the program than senior Jeff Tuel, but lately, Halliday refuses to win it.
“He tries to make too much happen,” Leach told me after midnight in Pullman. “He’s ridiculously driven to be good, and he’s also very confident. There’s a temptation for him to take too much on his shoulders. The mentality of that is a good thing, but it’s also a reckless thing where if you can’t keep it confined, it’s going to hurt you.”
From here, it seems as though Halliday is simply averse to checking down, opposed to taking the safe route with short pass completions.
“Well, he better embrace it here pretty quick,” Leach said. “It’s a huge problem. He’ll have stuff swimming around underneath, and he’ll throw it downfield and have it be contested.”
Halliday did it twice in the first quarter, both on relatively deep throws, before Leach lifted him. Halliday now has five interceptions in the past two games, all in the span of 29 throws. Tuel was 30 of 53 for 320 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions, but he led an offense thinned by the concussion (apparently) loss of Marquess Wilson and it only clicked for two touchdowns.
Still, I’d guess there’s considerably more evidence in Leach’s mind Tuel deserves to start WSU’s next game at Stanford Oct. 27. Of course, if that’s the case, it could change because there’s more time to assess it with a bye next week.
“I need to get one of them to hang onto this thing,” said Leach on the WSU radio network.