Football is the quitessential team sport, as we all know. It takes all eleven players working in concert to make a play successful, especially on offense. Within that dynamic, however, individual performances always stand out. Saturday's WSU victory in Corvallis was no different. Luke Falk, making his debut as a starter, was outstanding. He threw for 471 yards and five touchdowns, he was not intercepted, he never got rattled and he once again showed some good scrambling ability. That ability to keep a play alive was never more vital than when he moved to his right and found Dom Williams in the endzone on third down.
Falk's exploits on Saturday earned him the Pac-12's Offensive Player of the Week Award. As Mark Sandritter details here, that was no small feat given some of the other performances around the league Saturday. Also, as noted here, all Falk did was complete the most passes in the history of Reser Stadium, and the most passes ever by an opposing quarterback against OSU. So while we readily acknowledge that Falk is deserving of every award he gets, we'll use this space to recognize a few of the other Cougars who were instrumental in WSU's victory.
Before we get to the Cougs, let's start with an observation about the game. I don't know whose idea it was to start making that stupid chainsaw noise over the PA system every time OSU's opponent faces a third down, but it's probably time to retire it. 13 times that annoying sound was made Saturday, and eight times WSU silenced both the chainsaw and the crowd. The week before in Reser Stadium, Cal was so intimidated that they converted 11/19. Maybe it's time to put that thing to bed, Beavs. Even the USC band thinks it's annoying. On to the awards...
2nd Runner-Up: Jeremiah Allison
Is it just me, or has Allison seemed to lead the team in tackles every week since he was inserted as a starter? Such was the case again Saturday, as Allison led the defense with 12 tackles, including a sack. He has become WSU's most consistent linebacker over the course of the season. I'm pretty sure we all thought that would have been Darryl Monroe when the season started, but such is not the case. Allison did have a pretty rough series in the third quarter, missing a couple tackles and getting lost in coverage, but overall he had another solid game.
1st Runner-Up: Kache Palacio
The Buck position, along with the defensive line as a whole, had a pretty good game against Oregon State. The unit had three of the team's four sacks, disrupted Sean Mannion on several other occasions and including sacks, held Oregon State to 37 yards on 24 carries. While OSU hasn't been known for its running game these past couple years, that is still darn impressive. Palacio was the most disruptive of the bunch, tallying two sacks, three tackles-for-loss and five total tackles. There were a few other instances when he hurried Mannion into a poor throw. As Jeff Nusser noted on Twitter, this game was a good example of what the Buck position is supposed to look like under Breske.
Winner: Tyler Baker
While a former walk-on quarterback garnered the majority of the headlines this week (and rightfully so), another walk-on had a really good game as well. It's no secret that we all love River Cracraft. The guy always seems to be in the right spot at the right time, and he's been dearly missed when injured. However, Tyler Baker was an outstanding fill-in on Saturday. Falk and Baker seemed to have the same on-field rapport that we've seen from Halliday and Cracraft this season.
Baker tied for the team lead in catches with nine, piled up 113 yards, and scored 1-1/2 touchdowns (good call, Brian Floyd). Also, much like Cracraft, eight of Baker's nine catches went for either a first down or a touchdown. Not bad for a guy who hadn't seen much meaningful playing time until the last few games. Congratulations, Tyler, and good luck finding a roommate next year. I don't know how many people will be eager to live in a house with a wolf roaming around.