WSU's Leach: There's a reason Falk is 'Cool Hand Luke'

THERE’S A REASON the nickname "Cool Hand Luke" fits Luke Falk so well. The redshirt sophomore is as calm as can be in crunch time, and head man Mike Leach couldn’t agree with that notion more. During his radio show Thursday night, Leach spoke about Falk’s poise and much more.

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Cool Hand Luke.

Yes indeed, it’s a nickname that fits perfectly for the WSU signal caller, who has thrown for 2,371 yards and 21 touchdowns thus far this season.

Falk, who has led the Cougars to a 4-2 record this season, has only four interceptions on the year, two of which came in the 52-31 victory over Oregon State last week. He’s been playing exceptionally well, which has come as no surprise to Leach.

“Luke is just a guy who is committed to working all the time,” Leach said. “He watches film all the time. On top of that, he’s naturally smart, which helps him a lot out there. He does a good job of staying out of his own way.”

On the year, Falk has a 72.3 completion percentage. Leach and radio host Matt Chazanow noted that Falk’s current completion percentage is second to only WSU outside receivers coach Graham Harrell for the highest of any quarterback to play under Leach.

“As a young guy, there’s temptation to over analyze things sometimes,” Leach said. “I think Luke’s ability to stay composed is one of his strongest attributes. Even if he has a bad play, he moves on. That’s a strength of his. He might squander a play, but he doesn’t squander one for another 10-12 after that.”

FALK’S POISE WASN’T the only thing Leach discussed at length on Thursday evening. Following the victory over the Beavers, the Cougs improved their record to 4-2 and earned their second-straight Pac-12 victory.  They’ll now head to Tucson today to get ready to face the Arizona Wildcats at 1 p.m. on Saturday.

It’s a game Leach, his staff and his players started focusing on shortly after the OSU win.

“When you get a win, you enjoy it on Saturday night on your own time,” Leach said. “You celebrate it briefly on Sunday, but then it’s over. There’s no time for it. I know it sounds unfortunate, but you’re not going to get too many wins if you focus on the previous one.

“Football is a constant state of improvement and chasing your potential. If you lose sight of that, it’s destructive. When you get right down to it, winning is like beer. Well, if you think one beer is fun, try two. That would be really fun. The point is winning the previous game is good, but it will be better with another one, then another one.”

Leach added that despite the lopsided victory over the Beavers, he was hoping to see a little bit more out of his team.

“I was certainly disappointed in our second half,” he said. “I thought we had a good first half, but the challenge is to continue that. You’re not just trying to improve for that game, but also for the future. We did some good things in the second half, but I thought we should have played better. If we can do it in the first half, we sure as heck can do it in the second half.”

ONE AREA IN SPECIFIC  Leach wants to see some improvement is on the special teams. Throughout the season, Leach has praised first-year coordinator Eric Mele for his improvements to the unit, but said on Thursday that things need to continue to improve.

“It’s just got to be a continued progression,” Leach said. “We’re inconsistent. In the game against Oregon State (Tavares) Martin had a good kickoff return to start things out. Our good stuff is good, but we need the discipline to do it every time. We have some new guys, but our biggest challenge is to do things from start to finish.

“We have to continue to press to these guys that the biggest exchange of yards is on special teams. Against Oregon State, as things went our way, there was some relaxation from our players. The same guys who played well early and did a good job were the same guys who struggled at the end. It’s all focus to detail and doing your job. That’s something we have to stay on them about.”

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