Falk: WSU spring about finding identity on O

THE COUGAR need to find their identity on offense this spring, quarterback Luke Falk says. Ideally, the Washington State QB says that will include keeping a key ingredient from last season, and changing another.

In a recent conversation with CF.C, Falk said he hasn’t set any specific individual goals for the 15-practice spring session that kicks off on March 24 -- he simply wants to improve and “get better.” But the offense is another story.

“Spring is a really good time for us to try out some new stuff and I think from a team (perspective) we need to find our identity,” said Falk.  “Last year, we were just a gritty group and hopefully we’ll have that same mentality this year, we only had a few guys graduate. Hopefully, this year we can put some teams away.”

WSU’s 2015 season was marked by comeback wins and drama galore. Falk in 2016 would like to cut back on the comebacks, and instead get some lopsided wins.

“Last year, I think we let some teams hang around, Arizona for example. We’re up 17 and we allowed them to get back in the ballgame. We just need to put our foot on the throat. Hopefully we’ll just make our identity that way, by just putting games out of reach,” said Falk.

Washington State is always going to be a throwing offense under Mike Leach. And Falk has some great wideouts to work with in Gabe Marks, River Cracraft and others.  But Jim Mastro’s running backs also played an increased role last year and with James Williams this spring joining a group that already includes Gerard WicksJamal Morrow and Keith Harrington, all signs point to a continuing upward glide path.

“The backs were a huge part of our success on offense last year in being able to run the football, being able to be a big part of the passing game, and also in protection,” Falk said. “They’re just solid, they’re real good guys and they’re coached really well by Coach Mastro.

“My job is to get us into the right play call. If the numbers are right in the box, then I need to get us in the run set. Because the guys up front are doing a nice job blocking and those running backs are making plays. So the more I can get us into those run checks and get our offensive to where we can succeed the most, I think that’s my biggest key in this offense – getting us into a good look.”

Putting the pads on again can’t come soon enough for Falk, he said. In the meantime, there have been the offseason skelly sessions.

“I think everyone on offense has improved a lot,” said Falk.
This time of year and through the summer, Falk said he works hardest to get his fundamentals down and improve on his physical skills.

“I try to make that a  point because if you get it down at this time (of year) you don’t have to worry about it in the season and you can focus on other things, like our game plan,” said Falk.

Falk will be a fourth-year junior this season. He’s started only 15 games at Washington State but is on pace to rewrite the Cougar record books.  WSU special teams coach Eric Mele was instrumental in bringing Falk to WSU as a walk on. 

“He’s kinda been my rock here at Washington State, him and Coach Mastro. They’ve been huge supporters of me from the get-go. If it wasn’t for Coach Mele I wouldn’t be here, I would be somewhere else… Every chance I get to show appreciation to him I’m going to, him and Coach Mastro both… Coach Mastro has also really helped me with the run game,” said Falk.

And of course, there’s his quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator. 

“One of my favorite (Leach stories) when if someone if so wide open, he’ll say, ‘Oh Falk, I could punt it to him!’ if I miss him on a read,” said Falk. “Or he’ll say, ‘I could have a model go out there and throw it to him he’s so wide open. What do I need you for?’  He can be definitely hard on you but he’s an awesome coach. He’s a no BS kind of guy and I love playing for him.

“I think at quarterback we tend to overcomplicate some things… what Coach Leach helps me to do is to just get back to the fundamentals of keeping it simple… If you keep it simple, then you’re probably going to be high performing in this offense.”

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