OSU NOTES: A little more run game from WSU?

WHEN WASHINGTON STATE COMES into Corvallis this weekend they will, gasp, throw the ball. A lot. Mike Leach’s Air Raid uses a lot of short precision passes, some of which basically serve as running plays. But there will be a new quarterback at the helm for the Cougs. And that could change things up ...

Connor Halliday broke his ankle against USC on Saturday so former walk on Luke Falk will be at the controls on Saturday for WSU (Pac-12 Networks, 1 p.m.)

Falk is a redshirt-freshman and former walk on, though that last part is deceiving. He held offers from Florida State and others but in high school he transferred, then transferred back, and missed playing his junior year and the offers went away. By the time he got back on the field his senior year, everyone already pretty much had their QB.

He eschewed the chance to play at Cornell for a walk on spot at WSU. He went on scholie earlier this year.

The WSU coaches are said to have been very pleased with him way back before he was forced into the game this past Saturday. Tyler Bruggman, the initial heir apparent to Halliday and a 4-star QB recruit for WSU, would have also been a second-year freshman this season too. He left the WSU program in July after being outplayed by Falk in spring ball.

WSU is on record as saying Falk is wel versed in the offense and they won't need to alter the game plan from what they would have done with Halliday in there, not even one scintilla. But ... But what could shake things up, at least a little on Saturday for the Beavs, is that Falk might check more to the run than Halliday did.

The way WSU’s system works, Mike Leach sends in the formation and play. And there’s not a whole lot of complexity there, Leach’s Air Raid is so refreshingly simple it took him all of three days his first spring ball session at WSU to install his offense. (At many programs with a new coach, you often hear them say after spring ball AND fall camp they’ve got 50-75 percent of their offense in and it won’t be until Year Two that everything is in.)

Halliday rarely checked to the run over his WSU career. He loved to pass, even if the defense was giving him a look that screamed run. And a lot of times he was still successful doing it.

But if the Beavers clear things out a bit in the middle in order to cover WSU’s 4-receiver base set, Falk may not go a running play every time but he’ll almost certainly call for the run more than Halliday did.

Leach allows his quarterbacks complete freedom to change his play call after reading the defense. The only requirement: Leach tells them they’d better be right if they change it, they’d better make the right call.

WSU’s running backs are a pair of redshirt freshmen – Jamal Morrow and Gerard Wicks. Morrow is the glider but with surprising power. Wicks is a power guy with better moves and speed than he’s given credit for. Wicks was out last week so Theron West, a senior, took his place with WSU utilizing a two-back approach this season.

Morrow in recent weeks the thing he needs to work on most this offseason is eluding that first man. If the Beavs have their eyes on his waist when they go for the tackle, they should be able to limit him.

West can plant and go, so OSU needs to take the right angles on him. Wicks, assuming he does return, is not the guy to try and tackle up high. He and Morrow are also at their least effective when defenses string them out wide.

Washington State ran 92 plays on offense last week, not an unusual number for them. West and Morrow had a combined 16 carries, also not an unusual number for WSU. Falk had more carries than either of them, 10. And Falk will run more than Halliday but he’s not a running quarterback. Then again, OSU has had problems in that area, so you might see Falk test them a few times there on Saturday.

Falk was 38-57 for 346 yards with 2 TDs last week in relief of Halliday. He was sacked three times and threw one interception, a Hali Mary as the clock expired in the first half.

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