After a controversial week that led to a USC beat reporter being barred from practice for reporting injury news, Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott is considering mandatory injury reports for every team.
USC, Washington, Oregon and Washington State are among the Pac-12 teams who currently release only limited injury reports — or none at all.
So far this season, when asked about a player’s possible injury, WSU coach Mike Leach has frequently been quoted as saying, “We don’t have injuries at Washington State.”
If the rule were to go into effect, Leach let it be known on Monday he would still not provide injury information.
“I would still refuse. I would still be very elusive on it,” Leach said. “It would also violate the HIPAA law(s), which would be interesting to me if the Pac-(12) could get that law overturned. No, it’s nobody’s business and obviously if some kid doesn’t want you to know, why should you?”
Generally, the HIPAA laws ensure an individual’s privacy concerning medical information.
It appears as though this battle is far from over.
Washington State released a new depth chart on Monday that listed the starting quarterback position as “Jeff Tuel or Connor Halliday.”
Tuel practiced on Sunday and Leach didn’t mince words when discussing his health.
“He’s ridiculously healthy,” he 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...”
Breakfast commercials aside, Leach was impressed with Halliday’s performance on Friday, and it appears a quarterback battle is very much in play.
“I thought (Halliday) played well — way ahead of schedule for a guy who’s only played a handful of games, because he doesn’t have many snaps under his belt,” Leach said. “Thought he played really well when you consider that. I think he’s talented. As far as explosive, he’s really good at that.”
As for naming a starter for Saturday’s contest against Colorado, however, Leach remained tight-lipped.
“Well, you’re going to have to stay-tuned and watch very closely,” he said. “The anticipation is killing everybody, including me.”
Emergence of WRs
Wide receivers Marquess Wilson and Gabe Marks combined for 11 catches, 236 yards and three touchdowns against UNLV on Friday, prompting praise from Leach.
“We had a couple of receivers that made some big plays,” he said.
However, Leach said those results don’t mean he’s happy with the effort of all his receivers.
“Gabe (played) real well. I think Marquess can play better,” Leach said. “I think the steadiest guy we’ve had at receiver is Isiah Myers.”
After Wilson dropped two potential touchdown catches against the Rebels, Leach said he needs to improve.
“He needs to focus,” he said. “Obviously he can catch. Everybody knows he can catch. They weren’t difficult ones. Occasionally guys drop balls. He’ll catch them.”
In his first start, freshman Gunnar Eklund impressed the coaching staff enough to list him as the starting left tackle on the latest depth chart.
“He played real well, and I think one of the reasons he did play well is because he didn’t allow his mind to be cluttered.”
Junior John Fullington is now listed as the starting left guard.
While Leach admitted questions about the O-line were best served to coach Clay McGuire, he felt Eklund had the second-best performance of any of the offensive lineman on Friday — behind only center Elliott Bosch.
“Our O-line is getting a little better, which helped,” Leach said.
Closing out opponents
Washington State is 2-1 on the season, but on Monday Leach said he felt like his team had a chance to close out all three opponents early and get wins.
“Ironically, I thought there were three of them,” Leach said.
He later stated that in any given game there are seven plays on either side of the ball that determine the outcome of the contest. So far, he said, the Cougars have not been winning those key snaps.
“Defense, we walk away from each game and they’ll be like seven plays and if you eliminate seven plays you knock off half or two-thirds of their offense, which means you are doing pretty good other than seven plays,” Leach explained. “We have to have the ability to get those seven plays.”
The same could be said for offense, according to Leach, but the offense’s key snaps are “more subtle.”
After a third consecutive game that exposed WSU’s secondary, Leach acknowledged that it is a concern going forward.
“I think we’re inconsistent. We have too many guys rotating,” Leach said. “It’s almost like they are playing keep-away a little bit, as far as dominating the position. I think they need to dominate the position.”
One of the key issues is the cornerback’s inability to shake off getting burned.
“Sometimes those secondary kids, if they believed they were half as good as they are, they’d be pretty good,” Leach said. “They need to be a little more confident out there and have a little more burning desire to seize the position.”
“I think they’ve got to quit being so timid,” Leach said. “Have the toughness to get the job and hang on to it.”
Bucannon picked up another personal foul penalty on Friday against UNLV after getting suspended for the first half for a late hit the game before.
Leach said he doesn’t expect repercussions from the Pac-12, but that Bucannon’s hit was “too high” and was “bad technique.” He indicated that the hit was not late.
Wave the Flag
Leach was asked about his favorite pirate and cited Bartholomew Roberts, a pirate who lived from 1682-1722 and captured more vessels than any other pirate during the Golden Age of Piracy.
That wasn’t the only reason, however.
“...(He) had a cool flag besides,” Leach said. “They were big into hourglasses, as in ‘Hey, here, see this, your time is up.’ So if you had a person with a skeleton and an hourglass, I mean that’s the angel of death — ‘Hey pal, your time is up.”
It seems a Washington State logo on a black flag with an hourglass could well become a staple of Martin Stadium games going forward — “Hey Pac-12, your time is up.”