Football

Mike Leach talks Justin Herbert and useless stats

College GameDay heading to Pullman is pulling more press toward the rolling hills of the Palouse than one could imagine. Only adding to that narrative is Oregon’s seasoned quarterback Justin Herbert who – by many – is expected to be a top pick in the upcoming NFL Draft.

Wazzu owns three consecutive wins over the Ducks with a potential fourth on the way this Saturday; WSU is currently listed as 1-point favorites. It’s also worth noting Washington State has not beaten the Ducks in four consecutive matchups since 1981-1984.

Although, this time around won’t be so easy as last year’s 33-10 whipping came with Herbert sidelined via injury. The junior signal caller comes into his seventh game of the season on a 5-1 record completing over 63 percent of his passes for 17 touchdowns and just 5 picks. His momentum is almost palpable.

“He does a good job leading the unit. I think he can run a little bit but he’s more effective throwing it though,” Head Coach Mike Leach said. “They have that sense of balance that appeals to a lot of people.”

While Leach is quick to give Herbert props, he is likely not too hung up on the signal callers monstrous 171.2 passer rating efficiency. In the head coach’s Monday presser, it quickly became evident he considered the figure – and others like it – rather trivial.

“Over my career it’s been explained to me about three times. And I briefly understand it and after that it doesn’t make any sense. Cause that’s useless. It’s utterly useless. Virtually, completely and utterly useless,” Leach emphasized. “I don’t know one coach who pays any attention whatsoever to it.”

Leach continued his humorous rant by comparing these enhanced figures to sudoku and crossword puzzles. In his eyes, the numbers give no context on evaluating a player’s skillset.

According to Coach Leach, statistics ought to be centered around one thing only: telling the story of how a game was played.

When evaluating opposing quarterbacks, Washington State’s head coach asks one question, “What portion of the offense does this guy represent?”

He continued to cite completion percentage, touchdown to interception ratio, and overall yards amongst his favorite stats to assist in painting that picture. Rushing yards, however, are a whole other story.

When asked by one reporter how he felt toward the NCAA’s policy on counting sacks toward negative rushing yards, Leach hastily responded, “I like the way the NFL does it better. I always thought sacks are a quarterback and offensive line stat. It’s not a running back stat.”

So why does college football operate under this umbrella?

“Because they’re crazy,” Leach offered with a half-drawn smile. “And they have been for a long time.”

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