Washington State head coach Mike Leach bristled at criticism of his late-game strategy from reporters following the Cougars' 48-45 loss in the New Mexico Bowl Saturday.
Leach stated the obvious when asked what happened. "Colorado State finished the game. We didn't. Down the stretch, I thought they were more consistent than we were on offense, they were more disciplined than we were on defense, and they finished the game better than we did."
Leach drew criticism for two late drives after Washington State had built a 15-point lead with six minutes to play. The two drives, in which the Cougars continued to throw the ball rather than milk the clock with the running game, took just three minutes off the clock and allowed Colorado State the opportunity to score twice and tie the game. Leach bristled when asked if his team should have slowed down and used some more clock late in the game:
"We shouldn't have messed with [slowing the offense down]. I mean, fine, use the clock. We should have attacked them and gotten first downs. And then we should have protected the football."
A reporter then asked Leach if there was a concern that a player who enters the game after being held out for most of the contest would be "cold" and unable to perform. The question was an obvious reference to reserve running back Jeremiah Laufasa, whose only carry of the game ended in a fumble that set up the game-tying touchdown. "Next question," Leach sighed. "I mean, what the hell kind of question is that? You go out there, you practice all the time, you play. I'm not even answering that."
The same reporter later asked why it was that things went wrong "quickly and drastically" for Washington State at times this season. "Next question," he responded.
When asked about his team's demeanor late in the game, Leach mentioned a "sense of relaxation" that overtook his team in the fourth quarter. He praised Colorado State's defense for never quitting despite being behind by double digits for most of the game.