In less than 24 hours it will be go time for the Washington State Cougars as they begin fall camp in Pullman.
Mike Leach talked to the media today via conference call and faced some of the same questions his team is trying to answer coming into this coming season.
The squad was picked to finish fifth in the Pac-12 North by the media, and has had a whole lot of turnover both on and off of the field.
There will be four new assistants on staff and if you count Eric Mele moving from special teams to running backs, that makes five coaches in new positions on the team.
Then of course there's the players. Overall, the team is only returning 10 starters. That's the fewest amount of returning starters in the entire Pac-12. That fact is a bit misleading considering Peyton Pelluer was injured in week three and Marcus Strong didn't start in half of the team's games last year, and therefore isn't counted as a returning starter. Regardless, this is definitely a rebuilding year for the team.
Coach Leach is ready for camp to start, but emphasized the importance of this year's off season for this squad.
“It's definitely time and we're all anxious that now it's time, but those off seasons are important. We had a really good off season. It's one of the most important periods for the development of your team. We needed it and I really think we got the most out of it. It's an important period. You can't just circumvent and get right into it,” he said.
One of the things that was so important during this off season in particular was the development of the quarterback group. There are essentially four players in the running for that starting job right now after Tyler Hilinski's passing: East Carolina graduate senior transfer Gardner Minshew, juniors Trey Tinsley and Anthony Gordon, and freshman Cammon Cooper.
Tinsley and Gordon both had pretty similar performances at the spring game. Tinsley went 19-of-24 for three touchdowns and Gordon went 15-of-21 with two scores.
Cammon Cooper came in later in the game and also went 12 of 18 for 120 yards and one touchdown. It seems of those three Tinsley is in the lead right now, but of course then we have to talk about Minshew.
Obviously we're not sure what to expect from him, since we haven't seen him and how he has adjusted to this offense yet. We do know that he played in a similar offense as the air raid in high school and leach said he's been picking up the offense well so far.
Leach says he's looking to narrow down the quarterback competition as soon as possible.
“We'll look at all four of them but we're going to try to channel it towards the top two as quickly as we can and then go from there,” he said.
Leach also mentioned that he wants to have a starter named about ten days prior to the opener so that they can get that person the most reps possible.
Fall Camp begins on Friday in Pullman before moving to Lewiston for the rest of camp. KREM will be at camp on Friday to give you all of the latest updates.