Photo Credit: Sporting News
Luke Falk is 0-3 in the Apple Cup as starting quarterback, but he’s also the winningest quarterback in program history and the most prolific passer in Pac-12 history. So why do I feel a sense of relief that his college career has only one more game in it? Especially since this 2017 campaign has led to the best regular season record of the Mike Leach era (9-3, 6-3) and a third straight shot at the Pac-12 Championship Game.
The fifth year senior led Washington State in a thrilling victory over (then ranked) No. 5 USC, while also completing his undefeated record against the Oregon schools and lighting up Colorado a year after the Buffs completely shut him down in Boulder. Despite these accomplishments and records, the fifth year senior never appeared to be comfortable at the helm of the Air Raid this season. At times, it felt like his decision making process was constipated; what I mean by constipated is that he’d freeze after his first read or two was covered.
The best single play example of Falk’s constipation in ’17 came against Oregon State when he didn’t see two receivers open down field and dumped the ball off to Jamal Morrow in the end zone; Morrow was unable to escape the end zone and the Beavers were handed a free two points. Against Cal, this indecision proved even more costly against more pressure than was expected.
It’s hard to shake the mental image of the fifth year senior getting benched against Boise State and Arizona because he couldn’t find the open receivers. But it wasn’t always like this for Falk.
Two years ago, the authors of this site came together and put together an argument for why Falk deserved to win the 2015 Heisman Trophy. His quick relatively decision making that season allowed the offense to move down field in a hurry with explosive plays and perfectly timed throws. It was the best the Air Raid has looked during Mike Leach’s tenure in Pullman.
But the days of “cool hand Luke” stayed back in 2015…even his 2016 season was at times, troubling. Opposing defense’s gave Falk fits last season, despite the fact that he had the most efficient running game behind him during his career with the most experienced offensive line. Unfortunately the veteran from Logan, Utah struggled with defense’s that manned up on his receivers with safety help over the top…a trend that would be exasperated in ’17.
In his three seasons leading the Air Raid, Falk is going to be remembered as a prolific passer that piled up wins; but his horrendous play against arch rival Washington — therefore missing out on the Pac-12 North division title — in three straight seasons is going to mar his legacy.