By Nicholas K. Geranios Associated Press
SPOKANE — Washington State’s annual Crimson and Gray spring football game is today at Joe Albi Stadium in Spokane, and new head coach Mike Leach said he expects the Cougars to run 80 to 100 plays.
The No. 1 offense faces the No. 1 defense, with the No. 2 units facing each other, Leach said. The Cougars also will play with a game clock in the first half.
The offense, led by quarterback Jeff Tuel, has made good progress picking up Leach’s high-powered passing attack, Leach said.
“Overall, we’ve progressed quicker than I expected,” he said. “We’re beginning to develop some depth.”
The key during spring drills is to provide players with the basic skills they need to work on during the summer months, Leach said. “We’ve had the opportunity to fuel them up with the techniques and plays we want them to do,” he said.
Perhaps the biggest disappointment of the spring was that quarterback Connor Halliday, expected to battle Tuel for the starting job, was not able to practice much because he is still recovering from a liver injury suffered last season. That left Tuel and David Gilbertson to take most of the snaps this spring.
Tuel said he is picking up Leach’s offensive schemes.
“It’s not too bad,” Tuel said of the learning curve. “Once you get through the first week, it’s repetitive from there. The biggest thing I am working on now is speeding up my reads.”
Leach has brought a lot of excitement to the WSU program since he was hired to replace the fired Paul Wulff four months ago.
“It’s taken a turn for the best,” Tuel said. “We are real excited about the future.”
One of the most excited Cougars is tight end Andrei Lintz, who figures to see plenty of balls thrown to him this season. The 252-pound Lintz said he is ecstatic with all the attention so far. He had just seven catches last season, but has caught numerous balls this spring.
Leach told reporters Lintz must play like a scavenging grizzly bear.
“He needs to be like those grizzly bears in Yellowstone Park that start tipping over Dumpsters and throwing garbage out of them at the lodges,” Leach said. “We’re going to stick a Dumpster in front of him full of goodies, but he’s going to have to shred that thing, tip it over and dig into it to get at them.”
The spring game is scheduled for 1 p.m. The Cougars’ final spring workout is Tuesday in Pullman.