WSU coach Mike Leach thinks his team has made progress in the "toughness" category, but they're still not good enough to be able to play poorly and sneak away with a win at Stanford this weekend, he says

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Washington State head football coach Mike Leach was his usual blunt self during an interview with John Clayton Thursday afternoon on 710AM ESPN radio.

“Our team has gone from being pathetically not physical to pretty physical the last two weeks,” Leach said in response to Clayton’s question about how well the Cougars have responded to his tirade about their lack of toughness in the aftermath of the loss to Boise State.

The Cougars are 2-2 going into this weekend’s match up against No. 15 Stanford, and they finally appear to have figured out a way to win games.

But that is predicated on WSU’s starters playing the way they did against Oregon and Idaho. Leach is realistic about his team’s chances if they can’t get things going off the bat.

“We’re not a team that’s overpowering enough that we can play bad and win,” Leach told Clayton. “We’ve got a first level that’s pretty good, and some guys we can (sub) in after that, but we’ve got to play at a high level in order to be very effective.”

The coach is off the opinion that this year’s Pac-12 race is much more unpredictable than it was in 2015.

“Last year I think it was the best conference in college football. This year, I think a lot of teams are kinda emerging and still searching for who’s what and what they have,” Leach said. “Some teams are changing their style, like UCLA – they’re insisting on running the ball all the time.

“It’s not as clearly defineid as last year. Last year we were more defined. This year some teams look threatening – Colorado looks threatening — but we needed a few games to tell.”

Now, some links:

— The NCAA announced on Wednesday that its Division I Council is debating a proposal to introduce two new early signing periods for football, and to allow football teams to add a 10th assistant coach to the payroll. Jacob Thorpe of the Spokesman-Review asked Leach his opinion of both these proposals after practice on Wednesday. Leach thinks an early signing period is unnecessary, and said that if schools are allowed to add a 10th assistant coach, he would likely hire another defensive assistant for Alex Grinch, and that this new addition would potentially help coach the secondary.

— This Stanford scouting report by Jon Wilner of the San Jose Mercury-News leans toward a WSU win this weekend.

— SB Nation has this fascinating X’s and O’s look at how UW shut down Stanford RB Christian McCaffrey.

— However, it’s not realistic to think that you can take UW’s defensive strategy and shoehorn it into WSU’s game plan, says WSU defensive coordinator Alex Grinch.

— WSU safety Robert Taylor, who played at Stanford Stadium in 2014 with his former team, UC-Davis, wants “revenge” this weekend.

— St. Petersburg, Fla. native and WSU WR Keith Harrington is fervently hoping that Hurricane Matthew will not wreak too much havoc on his family as it makes its way to the Eastern seaboard of the U.S.

— The AP has this story about WSU bringing its two-game winning streak to Palo Alto this weekend.

— Oh and by the way, don’t expect Stanford to just roll over and take another beating. The Cardinal have vowed to play with “no fear,” says ESPN.com’s David Lombardi.