First, there’s Falk. The question is how much more he might improve in his second full season as a starter. He threw for 4,561 yards in 12 starts, with 38 TDs against 8 interceptions in leading WSU to a 9-4 record. He recently told CF.C he’s added about 10 pounds, at 6-4, 215.
Falk will have virtually all of his wide receivers back, and all of the WSU running backs return.
As long as the Cougs can adequately replace the two graduating offensive line starters, it could be a hugely productive 2016 on offense with Falk at the helm. So could the spring. The elephant in the room: the two head injuries Falk suffered in back-to-back games which relegated him to the sidelines for the Apple Cup. But Falk took some hard hits in the Sun Bowl and came out unscathed. And he won't be taking any hits this spring.
The one game that Falk didn’t start last year was the Apple Cup, a game where Peyton Bender (6-0, 187) looked stellar on the opening drive but a dropped pass by Dom Williams was a sign of things to come.
Bender, who will only be a third-year sophomore in 2016, can use this spring to show not only is he a capable back up, but to prove he is the clear-cut No. 2 for the Cougs.
The biggest thing Bender can do to make his case this spring to show the Apple Cup (and three defensive touchdowns in the second half) was an aberration? Decision making.
Second-year freshman Tyler Hilinski now has a year under his belt and he’ll have his chance this spring to show what he can do with the keys to the car.
Hilinski had his moments in Thursday Night Football. He also had some true freshman mistakes, as one would expect. But if he comes out firing on all cylinders this spring, and he’s put some weight on his frame over last year (6-3, 187) there could be an entertaining battle this spring that should benefit both him and Bender.
True freshman Justus Rogers (6-2, 220) will be looking this spring to prove he belongs at quarterback in the Air Raid. Mike Leach likes his makeup and athleticism, it’s just a matter of figuring out where he can have the greatest contribution, with safety or linebacker the most mentioned alternatives.
Rogers is a quick study, and he’s been watching Falk closely during skelly to pick up the calls and nuances of the offense.
Don’t forget about Christian Jorgensen (6-2, 190). If there’s one coach on Saturdays who doesn’t care about scholie vs. walk on, it’s Leach. And Jorgensen heads into the spring as the walk on who served as the No. 3 QB this past season.
Jorgensen declined offers from EWU and others because he believed he can succeed at the Pac-12 level. His Thursday Night Football appearances last year, and in particular his accuracy, lent grist to that argument.
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