Also, Mike Leach has a suggestion to fix the NFL's overtime rules that resulted in the 6-6 tie between the Seahawks and Cardinals on Sunday Night Football
Oregon State has a 2-5 win-loss record and has only one win in Pac-12 conference play – a 47-44 victory over Cal – but don’t you worry, Washington State (5-2, 4-0) isn’t about to overlook this Beavers squad.
“Winning in the Pac-12 is never easy,” said safety Robert Taylor. “Anything can happen any Saturday especially in the Pac-12. I look at Oregon State as I look at playing Alabama. That’s the mindset we all have to have on this team.”
Added receiver Gabe Marks: “It wouldn’t be a smart thing to do for us to take them lightly.”
The Cougars have won five games in a row and are outscoring opponents by an average of two touchdowns per game, but in the last two weeks, they’ve also shown a perplexing tendency to take their foot off the gas in the fourth quarter.
Most Read Sports Stories
- Analysis: Where will Washington land? Here are all of the Huskies' conference realignment options.
- Seahawks and Trail Blazers are not for sale, says team chair Jody Allen
- The Pac-12 will never be the same again, and that's sad
- Mariners sweep Padres, get within a game of .500
- Analysis: With survival at stake, Pac-12 should consider merging with the ACC
Against UCLA, WSU led 24-7 at the end of the third quarter, only to get outscored 14-3 in the game’s final frame. The pattern repeated itself in Tempe, Ariz. last weekend, with the Sun Devils scoring 11 points to WSU’s six in the fourth quarter.
So over the last two weeks, WSU has scored nine fourth quarter points and its opponents have scored 25.
What gives, Cougs?
“It’s just us not stepping on teams or finishing teams off,” said junior running back Jamal Morrow. “We have had like three-score leads, and offensively, you just have to continue to be able to score. That’s something we’re gonna work on this week.”
WSU coach Mike Leach said he thinks it’s more about cultivating the right mindset.
“I think the bigger thing is the whole general ‘staying focused for a long period of time’ thing,” Leach said. “I don’t think it’s necessarily some weird level of satisfaction, but I do think we relax a little bit.
“It’s just a general sharpness of our focus. We’ve got to maintain it all the time. We’re a team that’s battling to play our best game. We haven’t played our best game yet and we need to see how long we can sustain it and do it.”
The Cougs don’t like ties in football games either
Leach did not watch the Seahawks-Cardinals game on Monday night that ended in a historic 6-6 tie, but he’s not a fan of ties in general, he said.
“I think you should play it out until there’s a winner,” Leach said. “I don’t think it’s possible to go too long as long as someone is out there fighting to win.”
His suggestion as to how the NFL should deal with tied games at the end of regulation?
“You don’t win until the other team has had a possession. Once the other team has had a possession, then the game’s over from there,” Leach said. “I’d play regular football, each team gets a full possession, and then once each possession is over, whoever gets ahead from there is the winner.
“And then how long does it take? Who cares? If it’s too long, quit.”
Cougars training smart
The college football season is a marathon, not a sprint. So by mid-season, Leach generally gives his team Sundays off from practice in addition to their general day off on Mondays to ensure his players are well rested for each game.
This is especially helpful after late night road games, says Marks. The Cougars got back to Pullman from Tempe at about 3 a.m. last Sunday, and Marks said he didn’t get to bed till about 5:30 a.m.
“The Sundays off is probably one of the greatest things for the team,” Marks said. “Because those Sundays, we’re (in the football building) a long time anyways watching film and stuff like that. And to have to go out there and practice, sometimes your legs never warm up because you’re just so tired.”