Washington State goes into preseason practice looking for a new leader of coach Mike Leach’s “Air Raid” offense. The Cougars open training camp Saturday in Lewiston, Idaho.

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Washington State goes into preseason practice looking for a new leader of coach Mike Leach’s “Air Raid” offense.

Record-setting Connor Halliday is gone after throwing for 32 touchdowns and a nation-leading 430 yards a game last season, meaning Leach is left to decide between redshirt sophomore Luke Falk and redshirt freshman Peyton Bender for the starter’s job.

Falk started three games after Halliday broke his leg late in the season against USC and figures to be the front-runner.

“We’ll tee it up and let them both compete for it,” Leach said. “Biggest thing is (Falk) has a lot of composure and stability and the ability to go out there suddenly and play like he belonged there.”

Falk threw for 1,859 yards and 13 touchdowns in six games.

Meanwhile, Halliday was invited to NFL camps this summer but decided to retire from football.

“My biggest hope is that he doesn’t regret it,” Leach said. “He certainly had the ability to play.”

The Cougars open training camp Saturday at Sacajawea Junior High in Lewiston, Idaho.

“It’s a good opportunity to be together as a team and get our work done,” Leach said. “We avoid distractions, make everything about football.”

The Cougars will hold nine practices in Lewiston before starting practices on the WSU campus Aug. 18. They open Sept. 5 at home against Portland State.

WSU, which hopes to rebound from a 3-9 season, returns 13 starters.

“The good news is, we’ve got a lot of people back,” Leach said. “Some of them were pressed into service before it was probably ideal, but they’re what we had.”


• Notre Dame cornerback KeiVarae Russell, a senior from Mariner High School in Everett, is happy to be on the practice field. He didn’t play last season after being investigated for possible academic dishonesty.

“It’s literally about fun,” Russell said of returning to action with the Fighting Irish. “I love these guys. I train with these guys. That’s why, when I was back home, I trained harder to come back and play with these guys. It’s like a kid in a candy store, just an amazing feeling to be back out here playing.”

• Michigan Stadium’s capacity this season is 107,601, down from 109,901 — mostly because accessibility was improved under the Americans with Disabilities Act.