PULLMAN — After Washington State football players were called out publicly by coach Mike Leach for showing too much frustration on the sidelines during Thursday's season-opening loss at Brigham Young, at least one Cougars player actually wishes he'd shown more emotion.
In a positive way, of course.
"I haven't played a game like that in a while, and I maybe tried to play it a little too cool and just be too relaxed," quarterback Jeff Tuel said Monday. "And I need to let myself out more and let some of my passion for the game out, and do a better job leading and being vocal for my guys on the sideline to make sure that guys don't hang their heads and get down."
The unnecessary relaxation resulted in too much hesitation, something Tuel and Leach have readily admitted in the days since. And it manifested in late throws and scrambles that resulted in incompletions. On more than one occasion, Tuel appeared to have room to run, an effective tactic for him in years past. But he seemed hesitant to take off on Thursday.
"I was maybe just a little too passive in the game and maybe, at times, trying to be someone I wasn't," Tuel said. "I've made plays with my legs my whole career here, and I need to continue to do that and give the defense problems with it."
Tuel said Leach has told him he'd rather watch WSU's running backs and receivers carry the ball, though the coach did say he was impressed with Tuel's ability to avoid pass rushers.
"He got out of some stuff I didn't think he'd get out of," Leach said. "He got out of some stuff and made some good plays on some stuff where he had people all around him and it was impressive that he got out of it."
The next time Leach discusses his players' body language, it'll be too soon.
But it was again a topic of discussion on Monday.
Junior safety Deone Bucannon offered an explanation for WSU's perceived lack of confidence against BYU: they're simply not used to everyone expecting them to succeed.
"It's new for us for everyone to have so much faith in us, even with the coaching staff to have so much poise to be relied on and (have them) confident in us," Bucannon said. "We need to be more confident in ourselves before anything. That's what the coaches are instilling in us."
Said Tuel: "If you guys are expecting us to sit around and mope for the whole week, you're wrong, because that's not what's going to happen here anymore. Those times are over."
Leach said Connor Halliday will "probably" take a few snaps in a game before the conference schedule starts, but it appears the starting quarterback job is Tuels for the foreseeable future. There is no longer an "or" listed alongside Tuel and Halliday on the depth chart, as there was last week.
Steven Hoffart, Ioane Gauta and Matthew Bock are now listed as the starters on the defensive line. Gauta, Xavier Cooper, who has been recovering from injury, and Adam Coerper were listed as the starters for the BYU game, though Cooper didn't play and Hoffart and Bock began the game on the field.