To Analee and an anxious Cougar Nation, it was pretty clear Luke Falk was right where be belonged — a notion he put into hyperdrive the following week when he carved up Oregon State so masterfully that he was named Pac-12 offensive player of the week and Manning Award national quarterback of the week. “It worked out amazing,” said his mom. “After those first two weeks, you could say there was nowhere to go but down.” Indeed, a week after the OSU fireworks, Falk struggled in the second half at Arizona State, and in the season finale against Washington he looked every bit a second-year freshman and was done no favors by a receiving corps that dropped a plethora of passes. “Those last two games showed me the reality of being a Pac-12 quarterback. You really see how critical people can be. I’ve quickly learned I need a thicker skin,” Analee says with a chuckle. “The (Sean) Mannion family at Oregon State created a safety zone around them in the stadium — only friends sitting in the immediate area — to get away from it. I need to find a place where I can be safe like that.” Informed that such beloved former Cougar quarterbacks as Mark Rypien and Drew Bledsoe attracted a bit of fan ire back in the day, Analee drew comfort. “Oh that’s good to know. That makes me feel better,” she said. For Luke, though, slings and arrows make no difference, she added. “Growing up, he was always even keel, calm and cool. “He told me (after the ASU game), ‘don’t waste your time looking at the media — one day you're up, one day you're down.’” As for the 2015 season, she said Luke is “pumped” and “focused,” but more than cognizant of the fact his impressive work against USC and Oregon State is ancient history, that he needs to fend off a major challenge from Peyton Bender for the starting role before he begins looking for redemption against ASU and Washington. “He really wants to help get the program turned around,” she said. “This is where he wants to be be.” THE ROAD TO PULLMAN:
In 2014, as a second-year freshman, Falk completed 156 of 243 passes (64.2 percent) for 1,879 yards, 13 TDs and 7 INTs. His efficiency rating was 140.5.
Falk’s first taste of Pullman came the summer before his high school senior season when he and his parents loaded up the car and traveled to Utah, BYU, Boise State, Idaho and WSU on unofficial visits. “Mike Leach and Washington State — that was Luke’s idea. He said they ran the same offense (as Logan High) and he’d fit in perfectly,” remembers Analee. WSU was the last leg of the trip. Upon arrival, the Falks met with Eric Mele, a WSU assistant coach now who was a quality control and quarterback development specialist at the time. “He must have thought we were crazy telling him how good Luke is. Eric is a gem of a guy — we laugh about it now … He called during Luke’s senior year, just before his official visit to Cornell, to invite him on an official visit to WSU.” NOTABLE:
As a senior at Utah's Logan High in 2012, Falk set single-season state records for passes attempted (562) and completed (330). He threw for 3,618 yards and 36 touchdowns that season and guided Logan to an 8-3 record.
The annual Crimson & Gray Game will kickoff at 2 p.m. (Pac-12 Networks) Saturday at Spokane's Albi Stadium. Afterward, players will remain on the field for photos and autographs with fans.