Arizona opponent: Washington State's Leach looks to grind down foes

Arizona is taking on the Pac-12's top passing attack

Washington State coach Mike Leach is not a proponent that time of possession is a deciding factor in games, even though his team held the ball for more than 41 minutes in the eighth-ranked Cougars' 31-7 win at Colorado last week.

He will take that edge, but he is more about having more plays than the opponent by stopping the opposition regularly on third down.

Leach's offense and defense worked well together against the Buffaloes to achieve his objective. He is looking for more of the same against visiting Arizona (5-5, 4-3 Pac-12) on Saturday night.

The Cougars (9-1, 5-1) held onto the ball for 41:16, and the Buffaloes were 2 of 11 in third-down conversions. Washington State had 94 plays against Colorado's 54.

Washington State quarterback Gardner Minshew II engineered drives in the first quarter that resulted in a time of possession of 12:05 for the opening period.

"(Time of possession) is a stat that I take virtually no pride in whatsoever," Leach said. "It's fun to have occasionally, just so you can beat the ball-control people over the head with it."

The Cougars are off to their best start in Leach's seven years, and they've won the time of possession battle in seven of the 10 games they've played. They lead the conference with an average of 32:46 of possession per game.

Although his team controlled the ball last week, he was not entirely pleased with the end result of some drives.

"I thought that in our case we just weren't in really great tempo," Leach said.

"We were OK; we did keep the ball away from them. We hogged the ball the whole game. I thought we could have capitalized on more stuff. We could have scored more points in the first half."

The Cougars are the Pac-12's highest scoring team at 37.6 points per game. They also lead the country with 20 scoring drives of 10 plays or more.

Against Colorado, the Cougars had eight possessions that lasted at least seven players. The Buffaloes had only two of those, and six of their possessions were cut to three plays or fewer.

"Our defense was getting them off the field so fast, so hats off to them for getting us the ball and having us a lot of possession," Minshew said.