SPOKANE, Washington — Washington State is about where many fans expected it to be after completing its non-conference schedule, at 2-1 and clearly needing to do some work.
So the Cougars head into this season's only bye this week looking for some consistency with Pac-12 play on the horizon.
"We've got a lot of work to do, there's no question," coach Mike Leach said. "I think the biggest thing is we've got to become more cohesive on all sides of the ball. Not so much on an individual level but playing together."
From Leach's perspective, there are too many players waiting for someone else to step up.
"There's a certain amount of indecisiveness that exists as far as a guy wanting the play to come to them, sorting out whether the other guy is going to make the play or them," Leach said. "We have to have a little more reckless abandon with regard to our making the plays ourselves."
Washington State opened the season with a deflating loss to lower-division Portland State. The Cougars rebounded to win a thriller at Rutgers and then beat Wyoming last weekend, their first win in Pullman in over a year. They open Pac-12 play at California (3-0) on Oct. 3.
Linebacker Peyton Pelluer said the team is "definitely going to use this bye to get into conference play 100 percent."
One goal this week is to find a way to avoid playing at the level of the opponent.
"I think it's more a mindset," said linebacker Jeremiah Allison. "We don't have any room to relax. I think we just ease off the gas pedal sometime."
That's a bad idea, even against an FCS team like Portland State. The Vikings beat Washington State 24-17.
Players said afterward that they might have taken their opponent too lightly.
"We thought we'd just go out and make plays because we had a good summer," quarterback Luke Falk said.
"We really need to focus on playing a faceless opponent each week," said Pelluer, who had 14 tackles, including 3½ for loss, against Wyoming. "It shouldn't matter about them. We need to focus on what we can do and doing our jobs to the best of our abilities and putting together four quarters."
Falk agreed the Cougars need to put together a complete game.
"I think if we can just rise up and play together, we can be a deadly team, and I think that's going to be something to focus on this week," Falk said.
AP college football site: http://www.collegefootball.ap.org