PULLMAN — During Washington State’s recent tailspin, coach Mike Leach dropped a few hints that members of his coaching staff, not just players, were reacting less than ideally to adversity.

Even while lauding the team for its improvement last week in a 49-22 win against Stanford, Leach is putting a finer point on some of his previous criticism.

“The biggest thing is, we get in our way,” he said his weekly news conference Monday. “Whether it’s getting some players’ attention, or as a team overall focusing together. I think in some cases we either had too many guys that thought it would be too easy (to succeed this season), whether it’s coaches getting caught up in too many other things and feeling sorry for themselves, or what it may be. I just think the whole consistency and focus is the biggest key.”

After practices Tuesday, he was asked to elaborate on the “feeling sorry for themselves.”

“I think it’s tempting if things don’t go well,” he said. “People get frustrated and a lot of times a reaction to frustration is to feel sorry for yourself. You have to avoid that, because nothing productive happens. And the other thing is, I think that rubs off on players. Between all the minutiaes of stats and breakdowns that we do, and film analysis, you can get caught up.”

He drew a distinction between knowledge and “functional knowledge,” implying coaches weren’t always being functional in what they were asking players.

“It’s one thing for you to know as a coach that they’re going to do this out of this coverage, or this safety is going to do that,” Leach said. “But if it’s too intricate to convey to your players and you slow them down by conveying it to them, you’ve made a mistake.”

In the days after the resignation of defensive coordinator Tracy Claeys in late September, Leach asked the remaining defensive coaches to simplify their schemes. He was asked Tuesday if his latest comments referred to coaches still on staff.

“I think it’s tempting for everybody,” he said. “I think anybody’s capable of that. And I think it’s something you’re always guarding against.”

The Cougars (5-5, 2-5) lost five times in a six-game stretch before beating Stanford on Saturday. They can become bowl eligible by defeating Oregon State at home this Saturday.

Grummert may be contacted at daleg@lmtribune.com or (208) 848-2290.

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