SPOKANE — Washington State star receiver Marquess Wilson was suspended on Monday for an unspecified violation of team rules, and will miss Saturday’s game against No. 17 UCLA.
Cougars oach Mike Leach declined to say why Wilson was suspended, although he said the punishment would last at least a week.
The Moscow-Pullman Daily News reported Monday that Wilson stormed out of a team practice early Sunday evening.
Washington State (2-7, 0-6) was blown out 49-6 at Utah on Saturday for its sixth consecutive loss. Afterward, Leach complained that the effort of his players was “bordering on cowardice.”
“That could have been a zombie convention,” he said of his team’s play immediately after the game.
Wilson, a junior, has been the target of Leach’s criticism for much of the season, and has recently been demoted from his starting position despite leading the team in receiving. Wilson has caught 52 passes for 813 yards and five touchdowns this season.
Last season, he caught 82 passes for 1,388 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Leach said Wilson’s return was up in the air.
“It would depend on circumstances and we’d have a discussion,” Leach said.
Leach was asked if the public criticism of his players might be counter-productive, and replied that he had in the past considered replying with “yes or no” answers to most questions.
“Typically if I am asked a question, I’ll give an honest answer,” Leach said Monday. “Evidently there is some dissatisfaction with that.”
In response, Leach answered several reporters’ questions with vague and positive comments.
“Everybody on the team is a great partner, win or lose,” Leach said at one point.
“There’s a lot of love in the room, totally,” he said.
Earlier Monday, quarterback Jeff Tuel said the coaches were trying to get more effort out of the players.
“I think it’s obvious at some points in the (Utah) game we could have got better effort,” Tuel said.
“It’s tough to put a finger on what makes this team play well some weeks and not well other weeks,” Tuel added.
Tuel said he felt “disbelief” when he heard Wilson walked out of practice Sunday.
Tuel said the coaching staff has been pushing Wilson hard.
A players’ only meeting was planned to discuss issues with the team heading into the final three games, Tuel said.
“There’s a lot of flak coming in from the outside about this program,” Tuel said. “You are not going to break us as players.”
Linebacker Travis Long declined to discuss the Wilson situation.
Asked if Leach took some getting used to as a coach, Long said: “Yeah, it takes you a little while to get used to him. It’s not that big a deal, because he is the coach.”