WSU's Yost offers Halliday, Falk outlook

SPOKANE -- WSU inside receivers coach David Yost was more than ready Monday afternoon to offer reassurances to anyone worried about the Cougars' QB situation heading into Oregon State on Saturday. And he talked about some similarities and differences between Luke Falk and Connor Halliday. First, though, Yost offered a first-hand report on the injured Halliday, including a recovery timetable.

“I visited him in the hospital last night,” Yost said of Halliday. “When I got there he had maybe 15 teammates there visiting him along with his mom, his girlfriend and his younger sister. I was only there a short time and when I left there were probably another 12 teammates waiting in the hall to go in and see him.

“He had surgery and they put in some hardware. He’s got between 4-6 months to fully recover and that’s probably going to put him a little behind getting ready for the next level. But he’s going to get his chance.”

Turning to Saturday's game, Yost was happy to reassure those at the Spokane Cougar Club luncheon with regard to Falk, a redshirt freshman who graded out well in his performance against USC.

“If everyone else, the offensive line, the receivers and the defense, had graded out as well as Luke did, we’d have been just fine,” Yost said.

Falk split duty all last season with former WSU QB Tyler Bruggman during the Cougs' Thursday night scrimmages. That translates, Yost said, into having some 400 plays under his belt. Falk knows the offense.

“Luke is more apt to check down to a running play than Connor Halliday would. He’s much more comfortable doing that. "Connor," Yost quipped, "never saw a throw he didn’t think he could make.

“Luke has a strong arm, but compared to Connor? Let me put it this way. When it came to throwing the long ball, Connor always knew exactly where the ball was going. I know a bunch of guys in the NFL and none of them can do that. Luke has a strong arm, but nothing compared to Connor.”

Yost said that Falk is more athletic in the pocket than Halliday and is better able to find room to throw when defenses start to close in.

“I’m not talking foot speed,” Yost deadpanned. “If these two got into a foot race, I don’t know if either one of them could win.”

Yost was optimistic the Cougs would get back a couple of key players in time for Oregon State: running back Gerard Wicks and inside wide receiver River Cracraft.

“(On Wicks) it’s just a matter of how fast he can get back up to speed. River Cracraft is cleared to be back out there (Tuesday) and hopefully he’ll be ready to go. No one is more excited to get him back out there than I am because he sets the standard for my guys on how hard you have to work.”

Yost said the Cougar coaches have looked at a lot of film on the Beavers defense in the last couple of days.

“Oregon State is coming off a tough game against Cal,” he said. “They like to play a three-man front and rush an extra man... That’s what Southern Cal did. Arizona likes to use a three-man front, but they played a four-man front the whole game against us.

“Beyond that, (OSU likes to run) Cover 2. Cover 2 is kind of losing favor these days, but that’s what teams like to play against us – play Cover 2 and try to keep everything in front of them.

“What that’s going to mean to us is that we are going to have to make plays... We’re going to have to make plays consistently.”

The challenge, Yost said, remains for the Cougars to learn how to win.

“We have to learn how to find a way to win games,” he said. “That’s the next step. Whether you’re the Green Bay Packers in the NFL or whatever, you have to learn how to finish games if you’re going to win.”

Yost said the receiving corps has to get back to doing a better job catching the ball, like they were earlier this season.

“We had nine drops Saturday -- that’s too many,” he said. “A good receiver – not an outstanding receiver – should have one drop for every 12 catches. ”We need to keep working on our technique and keep getting better at catching the ball with our hands. If you let the ball get all the way in and try to catch it with your body and someone hits you in the back, you aren’t going to hold on and make the catch. If you catch the ball with your hands and get hit in the back, you arms are like a shock absorber and you can still make the catch.”

Yost, in his second year in Pullman, called on his 12 seasons at Missouri to offer Cougar fans hope for the future of this young Washington State squad.

“Look at Ole Miss and that defense they have there,” he said. “They had a very young group of freshmen that they had to play early. They took their lumps as freshmen and sophomores. Now that they’re seniors, they have an outstanding defense.”

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