Martin Stadium to be a Logan reunion Saturday

PULLMAN – Washington State’s 1 p.m. game with Oregon State on Saturday in front of what figures to be a raucous Martin Stadium crowd, will carry more than Pacific Northwest overtones with it. The ties to the state of Utah are enormous. Cougar QB Luke Falk and OSU head coach Gary Andersen go way back.

Falk is from Logan, Utah, where Andersen served as head man at Utah State from 2009-12.

“I grew up knowing Coach Andersen as the Utah State head coach, and his sons actually played on my high school team,” said Falk, who set state high school single-season records for pass attempts (562) and completions (330) while at Logan High.

Andersen’s younger sons Chasen and Hagen are currently playing at Utah State and oldest son Keegan will be on the sidelines Saturday. He’s in his first year as an offensive graduate assistant coach at Oregon State after serving in the same role for his dad at Wisconsin last season. He previously played tight end at Utah State.

In addition, Falk’s old coach at Logan High is expected to be in Martin for the game Saturday.

Falk, who has led the Cougars on two game-winning or -tying drives this season, told reporters this week that he never led a game winner in high school but pulled off many of them as a kid in his family’s living room.

“I was always leading the Denver Broncos against the Oakland Raiders… I put pillows around the fire place because I didn’t want to hit my head diving into the end zone, and one time they got burnt, so mom got pretty pissed at me …”

In regard to the last-second heroics at Oregon last week, Falk said, “I think after the Cal game, we had a lot of opportunities to close the deal and we came back and being close just wasn’t good enough. We came together as a team and just said enough of this crap. It’s time to win. It’s time to do what we came here to do and that’s to win and get this program back on track,” he said.

Falk leads the Pac-12 in passing yards per game and total offense. He is No. 3 in passing yards in the nation.

THE FAMILIAR FACES SATURDAY WON’T END with the various Utah connections. The Beavers’ No. 1 punt returner is former Cougar Rahmel Dockery out of Curtis High in Tacoma. He came to WSU as a receiver in 2012 but was moved to corner and served as a scout team defensive back before transferring to Tacoma Community College and then joining OSU last season. He has returned nine punts this season, averaging 7.6 yards with a long of 21. Dockery, an outside receiver, hasn’t caught a pass or started a game this season but he started one game at wideout last year – against his old pals from WSU.

THE COUGARS ARE AN 8 ½-POINT FAVORITE against the 2-3 Beavers as of Friday afternoon, but you wouldn’t know it from talking with the leading receiver in the Pac-12, WSU junior Gabe Marks.

“We’re not in the position to take anyone lightly. Given the type of season we’ve had, every week the game comes down to the wire for some reason,” Marks said this week. “We know that anyone in the conference can beat anyone else.”

Cougar linebacker Peyton Pelluer, one of the Pac-12’s top tacklers with an average of 8.6 per game, said one of the key defensive lessons for the Cougars from the Oregon game was maintaining gap integrity. “I don’t think we held (Royce) Freeman in check enough … We need to make sure that we get in front, and we’re getting the stop early. But we held him when we needed to.”

Asked about the nine turnovers the WSU defense has generated so far this season – one more than all of last season – Pelluer said it’s all about technique and mindset.

“Stripping at the ball instead of just letting the guy go down, or more guys (getting) to the ball, there’s a better chance to get that ball,” he said. “If I’m a corner or safety, and the opponent is passing I need to have the mindset that the ball is coming to me every play, even if it’s not, because I’ll have that same break on the ball every play.”

And if confidence plays a role, look for a load more turnovers. “I think we’re capable of a lot of things -- certainly capable of making it to the Pac-12 Championship game," Pelluer said.

"As long as we put together a full game –- offense, defense, and special teams -- I think we have the potential to do great things here. The coaches give us the blueprint and the players just continuing to buy in and playing to the best of our ability and execute our game plans that the coaches give us.”

NOTABLE NOTES:

  • Marks had some entertaining comments this week on the life of quarterbacks: “Quarterbacks don’t get hit anymore. They just hang out at practice all day, toss the ball around a little bit and wear a different color jersey. I think sometimes they need to get hit. And then it’s just like the hype of quarterbacks, like they win the Heisman every year. Let somebody else win the Heisman, you know. There’s better players than the quarterback that can win the Heisman. I mean, I like quarterbacks, because without them I couldn’t do my thing or whatever, but I like more of the Luke Falk kind of quarterbacks than … I’m not going to say any names.”

  • The Cougars and Beavs kick off at 1 p.m. Saturday with TV coverage on the Pac-12 Networks.


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