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If called, Cougar backup QB Tyler Hilinski says he’ll be ready

PULLMAN — Washington State backup quarterback Tyler Hilinski may not be expecting to see much time under center on Saturdays this fall, but the third-year sophomore also knows that anything is possible.

“I just have to be ready,” Hilinski said after Saturday’s second practice of the spring, adding that his role backing up starting senior Luke Falk is “definitely different” than his role as a starter at Upland High in California.

He credits his true freshman year, in which he spent his time playing for the scout team, mimicking the roles of opposing quarterbacks, with helping him adjust to a new role.

It was a year in which he says he “got stronger mentally,” by focusing on just helping the defense get better.

It was also a major transition to go from starting in high school to working one's way up the ladder.

“It’s definitely a mental grind, not being able to practice with the one and twos,” he said. “You get recruited, they love you up ... but that’s just how it is.”

As to how he feels backing up a nationally known star such as Falk, Hilinski was more upbeat.

“It’s the best benefit you could ask for,” he said. “Luke, who’s probably played more games than anybody across the nation right now, has all the experience, has seen every clip on film, I mean he has so much knowledge . . . I just try to pick up as much as I can.”

Tension between the two highly touted quarterbacks isn’t much of an issue, either, according to Hilinski. When asked about their relationship, the backup sophomore said simply, “Luke’s my boy.”

Hilinski appeared in four games last season, completing 24 of 30 passes for 245 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. He saw his most action in the 69-7 blowout win over Arizona, connecting on 15 of 17 passes for 163 yards with two TDs.

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