Wyat Taylor / The Daily Evergreen
The WSU Cougars have emerged from the bye week with a new determination and vigor they hope will propel them through the end of the football season.
At Monday's press conference, players talked about the benefits of the bye week as well as the challenges, including a particularly bad practice they had on Tuesday.
Senior quarterback Jeff Tuel, the starter for this weekend’s game against the No. 19 Stanford Cardinal, said the team feels refreshed mentally and physically, but things can easily go wrong if a team doesn’t handle a bye week with the right mindset.
“It’s easy to kind of fall into that trap of a bye week and kind of come out and take it easy,” he said at the conference. “It’s too easy to fall into that trap.”
Tuel said players have fallen into the trap every year he has played on the team, saying the practice on Tuesday was difficult because players entered the week with the negative mindset he mentioned.
Wednesday, however, marked a complete turnaround for the team. Tuel said the players returned to the field with renewed energy.
“With this team, it’s really from the neck up,” he said. “It’s just learning how to prepare, and Coach Leach has said ‘turning the switch on and off.’ We’ve got to stop doing that, and it’s just got to be on.”
As the leader of the offense, Tuel seemed focused on finishing the season strong and using the newfound energy from the bye week to win the upcoming games.
“I want to lead this team to some victories,” Tuel said. “Like I said last week, a bowl game still isn’t out of reach. Believe it or not, people from the outside looking in can say it is but it’s not with us, so with the position I’m in it’s my job to take us there. I’m going to keep believing until it’s out of reach.”
Junior safety Deone Bucannon said the team needs its leaders to step up and encourage that strong mindset in everyone, especially the players who have their heads down when the team is losing.
“It’s on us. The coaches can’t do anything anymore than they already have,” Bucannon said. “I’m kind of tired of the same excuses. Young team and everything, we’re a great team. We can play with these guys, and I’m very passionate about it.”
A team’s success is not based on talent, Bucannon said. Rather, winning depends on every player’s mindset, and he believes in this team’s ability to succeed in the second half of this season.
“I very much think we’re going to go to a bowl game,” he said. “I feel we have every tool that is needed in a team to play with any team.”
Bucannon said this Cougar football team has plenty of talent, but the players just need to want a win and do everything they can to obtain it.