PULLMAN — As No. 15 Washington State prepared to host Colorado on Saturday night, coach Mike Leach didn’t mince words when describing the Cougars’ last outing, a 37-3 drubbing at California.
“That’s the worst game everybody has played under me,” Leach said. “We got pretty much what we deserved.”
But Leach is optimistic the Cougars (6-1, 3-1 Pac-12) can rebound against a Colorado team (4-3, 1-3) coming off its first Pac-12 win.
“The team is pretty determined to improve,” Leach said.
“We’ve got talented guys,” the coach added. “Those guys need to rise up and play again.”
Washington State’s Air Raid is averaging nearly 381 passing yards per game, third in the nation, and 34.4 points per game. The Cougars will be up against a Colorado defense that is struggling, giving up 33 points in a win over woeful Oregon State last weekend.
Colorado coach Mike MacIntyre noted his team has had its last three games decided by four points or less. Two of those were losses.
“There is a lot of parity in the Pac-12,” MacIntyre said. “We’ve got to find a way to win those close games.”
MacIntyre is wary of how his defense will fare against Washington State’s record-setting quarterback, Luke Falk.
“They’ve got to understand if his first option’s not open, he’s able to go to his second and third option,” MacIntyre said. “Eventually that big play is going to come open.”
Despite that big-play ability, Washington State’s offense failed to score a touchdown last weekend for the first time since 2012.
On Saturday, the Cougars will also be playing without leading receiver Tavares Martin Jr., who has seven touchdown catches this season but was suspended this week for a violation of team rules.
Other things to consider when Washington State hosts Colorado:
HOLDING ON: Colorado has not had a turnover in 13 consecutive quarters, the longest stretch in program history.
GAINING GROUND: Colorado running back Phillip Lindsay is five yards shy of 1,000 yards rushing for the season. He gained 281 yards and 185 yards in his past two games.
FALK RECOVERY: Falk had one of the worst games of his career last weekend against Cal, getting intercepted five times and sacked nine times. But he needs just 422 passing yards to become the leading passer in Pac-12 history, breaking the mark of 13,600 held by Oregon State’s Sean Mannion.
ALL-AMERICANS: Washington State offensive lineman Cody O’Connell and defensive lineman Hercules Mata’afa were both named to the AP midseason All-America team. Mata’afa leads all active Pac-12 players with 36.5 tackles-for-loss and 18.5 career sacks. “When you get the son of Zeus to play D-line for you, it really helps you,” MacIntyre joked.
GETTING WINDED: The Cougars will be playing their eighth straight game when they face the Buffaloes. Washington State doesn’t have a bye until mid-November.