WSU’s Falk has no problem getting noticed now

PULLMAN— It was hard for Luke Falk to get noticed in the beginning at Washington State. He was the freshman walk on competing against a 4-star, big-time recruit in Tyler Bruggman. Falk didn't run the scout team much last season -- that was Bruggman’s responsibility. But Falk said he was actually sad to see Bruggman transfer this summer …

And that’s because the two could no longer push each other to be better. To be clear though, Falk most certainly does enjoy knowing he is the second-string guy behind Connor Halliday. The veteran has been pleased with what he’s seeing from the backup, too.

“Luke, since he got here last June to where he is now, he’s probably the most improved player on the team in that amount of time,” Halliday said. “I’d have all the confidence in the world if he’d have to go out and start a game right now, and I know the guys in the locker room have got confidence for him too.”

At the helm of the second-team offense, Falk has put together a solid fall camp from my vantage point. He has had the luxury of a plethora of returning receivers, and he has used their experience to his advantage.

In the first scrimmage of fall camp, Falk led the quarterbacks with 96 passing yards and although he did not collect any touchdowns in that one, he did not throw any picks either. He has kept those to a minimum. Apart from the interception he threw in the final scrimmage of fall camp, Falk had only one other notable pick that comes to mind - a tipped pass by Ivan McLennan that fell into the hands of Chester Sua.

Also in that second scrimmage, Falk connected twice for touchdown passes, something overshadowed by Halliday’s four TD’s on that day.

Leach said Falk plays with a calmness about him, and it’s been apparent from this chair in how he finds receivers in tight windows while showing a tendency to stay in the pocket and let the opportunities develop. Sure, he’s scrambled a few times but he’s shown good decision-making skills on the move, and even raced into the end zone on one occasion.

However, don’t look for that to happen too often. Falk said he plays quarterback for a reason -- he was a good basketball player in high school but never considered playing basketball at the college level because he was never fast enough for that.

His old prep coach at Logan High in Utah, Mike Favero, told CF.C this week that Falk has all the tools necessary to succeed in the Air Raid. The two still stay in touch regularly, and he is fired up to watch Falk play out his college career.

“I think he's a perfect fit for coach Leach's system,” Favero said. “His football IQ, vison, accuracy, perseverance and leadership skills will make him a great QB at Washington State.”

Falk says he will be ready when his name is called to start, but until then, he has his eyes set on one thing: improvement across the board.

“Every day I just want to keep improving, and then if I have my best stuff, I think that’s an opportunity for me but I just want to keep getting my leading skills, and keep being the best quarterback I can be and keep being the best teammate I can be,” Falk said.

Falk credits Favero for working with him so much and developing him into the quarterback he needed to be in order to make a name for himself at Washington State.

“We hucked it a lot in high school. I love where I came from. I had a great high school coach, who really did a great job of getting me to love the game, just to work hard,” Falk said. “I really attribute to him just getting me here. I love where I grew up.”

Favero first worked with Falk when the quarterback was in the seventh grade. Falk began to learn the offensive system at Logan, but those lessons became more advanced as Falk grew older. Favero said he taught Falk to think like he was on the other side of the ball, as a defensive coordinator, so that he could understand what his opponents were throwing at him.

This helped Falk throw it back into the defenders’ faces.

“During the season he became an expert of our offensive concepts,” Favero said. “He quickly developed the ability to call his own plays at the line of scrimmage. He was able to do this because he understood defenses as well as our offensive concepts. He mastered our offensive play-calling criteria which required him to read defensive numbers, angles and athletic match-ups with the goal of gaining a first down or a touchdown.”

Falk, as CF.C chronicled earlier this spring, saw his prep career and recruiting interrupted by a family move after his sophomore football season. And it made his road to playing FBS football harder than most.

He had thrown for almost 1,500 yards and 17 touchdowns his sophomore season, and had a scholarship offer from Florida State. But his family moved from Utah to California, where Falk attended Oaks Christian High, and something just didn’t feel right there. Falk said the students drove from several places so it was hard to hang out with them outside of school and after football. The relationship with the coaching staff was also lacking compared to what Falk had with Favero at Logan.

“At Logan, I’m at home. Everything was great,” Falk said. “At Oaks, I was shy. There were some things I could’ve done better but I didn’t really fit in.”

Falk’s family moved to California for multiple reasons, including to expose his two older sisters, both singers, to the show business side of Los Angeles. Falk’s father also wanted to expand his company, and the Falk family knew that football was a big sport in the state.

Unfortunately, nothing really worked out for any of the Falk clan in California, Falk said. The family responded by moving back to Logan, which Falk calls their “home base.”

But that meant he couldn’t play with the team during his junior year because of the transfer rules, and he had to re-earn the continuity if his teammates. The recruiting phone calls from came to a grinding halt, and they didn’t pick back up until his senior season began. But when the calls did resume, they were from Ivy League schools, Wyoming and Idaho.

“It was disappointing, but I think everything happened for a reason to get me here,” Falk said.

Falk said he developed a chip on his shoulder, and he brought an effort every day with the desire to show everyone that he could play at the Division I level.

“I expected him to play Division I because that was his goal and he wasn't going to let anything interfere with him achieving his goal,” Favero said.

Falk’s sophomore season at Logan was nothing compared to the one he had during his senior year. The quarterback set state records for single-season pass attempts and completions, and he put up 3,618 passing yards and 36 passing touchdowns. But schools get their quarterbacks early nowadays, before their senior season.

It was still enough to convince Leach and the Cougar coaching staff, and Leach said he would give Falk equal opportunities. He’s made the most of it and coupled with Bruggman’s departure, here he is, the backup QB at Washington State. And Leach said earlier in fall camp that Falk would go on scholarship this year.

And unlike his final years in high school, Falk heads into the 2014 season at Washington State finding himself anything but unnoticed.

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