COUGAR NOTES: WSU to honor Leach during Wisconsin game

Sep. 6—When Washington State football coach Jake Dickert sat down for his weekly news conference this week, he wasn't wearing his usual crimson-colored attire.

Instead, Dickert wore a black T-shirt emblazoned with a classic pirate logo with a Jolly Roger wearing a crimson bandana with the WSU Cougar logo on it.

The shirt was a nod to legendary WSU coach Mike Leach, known as "the Pirate," who the Cougars will honor at Saturday's game against No. 19 Wisconsin at Gesa Field in Pullman.

Leach led the Cougars to six bowl games when he coached the team from 2012-19, a span that included a program-best 11 wins and a No. 7 ranking in the AP poll in 2018.

Leach died Dec. 12, 2022, from a heart attack.

"I've had the opportunity to talk to a bunch of coaches that have been on our staff, obviously former players that have been here, and the impact that coach (Leach) has made on their life — just listening to their stories, if people talk to about me that way when I'm done, I've been successful," Dickert said.

Leach had a love for pirates and his most famous motto was "Swing Your Sword."

The Cougars will honor Leach in different ways throughout the week and throughout Saturday's game, Dickert said.

There will be free T-shirt giveaways for students and the team will run out with flags honoring the coach, among other tributes.

"Mike Leach was one of the reasons I'm here in the first place," said senior edge Ron Stone Jr., one of the last Leach recruits still on the WSU roster. "The legacy that he left, I'm excited for that and I just know how much support there's going to be for him just all around the nation.

"We all loved Mike Leach. He was hard sometimes, but that's what made him great."

Sellout game

The WSU-Wisconsin game was sold out by Monday, barring a few season ticket options that are still available, the school announced.

Gesa Field, also called Gesa Field at Martin Stadium, has a capacity of 32,952.

WSU's last sellout game was its regular-season finale last season against Washington on Nov. 26 in the Apple Cup.

"I think first off it shows off what we're capable of doing," Dickert said. "We get six games a year that Coug fans can invest in and this can be one of the hardest places to play in the Pac-12, bar none, and that's been proven before. ... The energy our fans provide the team, you can't even put that into words."

Something to work on

The theme for practice this week is "finish, finish, finish."

WSU led Colorado State 36-3 in the fourth quarter of last Saturday's opener before going on to win 50-24.

The Rams had touchdowns of 98 yards on a kickoff and 75 yards on a big pass play — two plays the Cougars would like to have back.

Last season, the Cougars also struggled to close out games, often going up big before barely eking out a victory or eventually falling to defeat.

"Finishing needs to be a habit," Dickert said. "It's going to be the No. 1 thing, if you're at practice, that you're going to hear me say this week — finish, finish, finish. ... We need to be tougher this week."

Cougs get vote in AP Top 25

Washington State (1-0) received a single vote in the new AP Top 25 poll released Tuesday.

Ryan Thorburn, the Wyoming beat writer at the Casper Star-Tribune, ranked the Cougars at No. 25 in his ballot.

That single point makes WSU at an unofficial No. 42 in the Week 2 rankings heading into Saturday's game against No. 19 Wisconsin (1-0) in Pullman (4:30 p.m., ABC).

The Pac-12 Conference is well represented in the latest rankings with six teams landing in the top 25 and UCLA narrowly missing out by just two spots.

USC remained at No. 6, Washington moved up two spots to No. 8 after beating Boise State,

Utah moved up two spots to No. 12 after beating Florida of the SEC, Oregon moved up two spots to No. 13 after dropping 81 on FCS Portland State, Oregon State also moved up two spots to No. 18 and Colorado joined the poll at No. 22 after beating national runner-up TCU.

Wiebe may be contacted at (208) 848-2277, or on Twitter @StephanSports.