A different Luke Falk emerging for Cougs in '15

LEWISTON – One start into his college career, Luke Falk had Washington State fans comparing him to the greatest quarterbacks in school history. That is so unfair … to those other quarterbacks.

After all, Drew Bledsoe, Ryan Leaf, Connor Halliday, Jack Thompson, Jason Gesser et al never passed for 471 yards and five touchdowns in their starting debut. Those were the stunning numbers put up by Falk in a late-season win at Oregon State, which helped inspire at least one newspaper to run a story on Falk under the headline “Boy Wonder.”

Falk played more like the second-year freshman he was in WSU’s remaining two games, but supporters of all things crimson will not soon forget Falk’s performance at Corvallis. Falk won’t always pass for 471 yards – or 601 yards like he did at Arizona State in his second start, albeit with four interceptions – but wide receiver Gabe Marks says he expects to see an improved Falk during his first full season under center.

“He’s just more confident,” Marks said. “He’s been in the system longer. The confidence will take you so much further than people realize."

Falk hasn't been named the starter and all indications from Mike Leach are that the battle with Peyton Bender will last well into fall camp. But Falk came in as the leader and nothing over the first two days in Lewiston would seem to have changed that.

“He’s just got the confidence,” Marks repeated. “He knows that this is his team now. And he’s been in the weight room for another year.”

Falk knows he will need plenty of help from his friends if the Cougars are going to go bowling this season.

“I think we have one of the best receiving corps in the nation,” Falk said. “There’s not one guy I’m not confident in, so that’s really a luxury to sit back there (in the pocket) and see who’s open.”

Falk says the Cougars will benefit from a vigorous offseason training program and better team chemistry. Falk says the Cougars did not have “a real ‘tight’ locker room” last year during a 3-9 season, but that situation has changed dramatically.

“I thought we had one of our best offseasons,” Falk said. “Everyone bought in. I think this is our ‘tightest’ unit (for team unity) we’ve ever had. Everyone in the summer did what they needed to do and more.”

That most definitely includes Falk, who worked hard at football and played hard during his spare time over the offseason. Falk was a standout in basketball as well as football at Logan High in Utah, and WSU teammates say the 6-foot-4, 205-pound Falk can dunk a basketball with authority.

“I had to show people I could play ball,” Falk said with a smile. “They didn’t believe me. They think a white boy from Utah can’t play!”

Falk showed a fun side another time when he attempted to slide head-first down a bowling lane during a summer get-together with teammates. The aborted slide was caught on tape in “The Grind,” safety Taylor Taliulu’s video series on the team.

“You saw that, huh?” a sheepish Falk asked a reporter. “I thought it was going to be a little more waxy and I could get down there a ways, but I just stopped. That kinda hurt, actually.”

Of course, Falk’s pain was considerably less than the pain experienced by Connor Halliday when his right leg was shattered as he was tackled last November in a loss to USC. Falk had thrown just two passes in two years (both in mop-up duty against Portland State last September), but he performed admirably after replacing Halliday in the first quarter of the USC game.

Before and after his injury, Halliday had nothing but praise for Falk’s talent, work ethic and attitude.

“Hopefully,” Halliday said at the end of the season, “his career takes off and he breaks all my records.”

That won’t be easy, but Falk is excited to go into battle with his buddies.

“There’s not one person on this team I dislike,” Falk said. “I really love everyone. It’s just fun to be around (his teammates). I really don’t ever go home that much. I like to just sit in the locker room and hang out.”

Hanging out in the locker room after a bunch of WSU victories would be even better.

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