For the first time in a long time, Washington State football can fill out the depth chart with scholarship athletes, and that should lead to improvement from the top down, especially when Mike Leach and his coaching a Pete Carroll-like atmosphere where everyone is competing for a starting job. The head coach talked about that competition when he went on 710 ESPN Monday (the whole radio interview can be found here), saying it creates a "sense of urgency" with the players.
The offensive line has been the primary focus in Mike Leach's first two recruiting classes, and that means there is enough talent to endure injuries without catastrophe. Leach was asked about the offensive line, and the total number of players was the focus:
We've got more bodies out there than we've had. Right now we've got (Gunnar) Eklund, (John) Fullington, (Elliot) Bosch, (Matt) Goetz, and Rico Forbes is back, which helps us. Then our second group we've got some young guys that have gotten better....Those guys have all improved. I think they do provide some depth and they also provide some competition and both are desperately needed as far as recruitment goes.
Conversation then turned to the quarterback battle, which may be the most sure sign that Leach is encouraging competition. It might be easy for some to assume Connor Halliday is the guaranteed starter, as he is the only quarterback on the roster with game experience. However, the Cougars are giving redshirt freshman Austin Apodaca his fair shot, and Leach says not much separates the two:
We've got two guys. I think their ability level is similar. Connor is a little more experienced, so I think he is a little more ahead from the mental aspect of things, but Austin Apodaca has been doing some real good things as well.
Leach was also asked about incoming four-star freshman quarterback Tyler Bruggman, and the door doesn't appear to be completely shut on his opportunity to play this fall, and said it depends on "what he's got when he gets here."
As for the defensive side, Leach did offer up one regret from the dramatic comeback Apple Cup victory:
That interception was a little backwards. I wish Toni (Pole) would have tipped it and Logan Mayes would have intercepted it, because I guarantee he would have had the extra five yards to score.
I don't know coach, there isn't much better than watching a dude pushing 300 pounds run a 70-yard sprint.