It was just another day at the office for Luke Falk against Arizona State last week. The redshirt sophomore, in his first full season as the starter, has already made five touchdown performances rather normal, which is ridiculous.
After a slow start by his standards last Saturday, Falk and his receivers put on a show en route to a big win over the Sun Devils on a sunny fall day in front of a packed Martin Stadium. His 497-yard, five touchdown game earned him his third — THIRD! — Pac-12 offensive player of the week honor this season and fourth overall in just 12 starts to begin what's already turning out to be a record-setting career.
Next up is UCLA, a nationally ranked foe that will likely be the stiffest test the Cougars' passing attack has faced this year. With that in mind, let's continue our look at Falk's march towards the top of the record books with some Gabe Marks facts sprinkled in.
As always, thanks to Kirt Onthank for the graphs. One not from him: He's using linear regression for the projections, rather than simple extrapolation, which reduced the effect of an outlier performance.
Pac-12 single-season touchdown record: Marcus Mariota - 42
Falk bounced back from his two touchdown game against Stanford with another Falk-esque five touchdowns against the Sun Devils. He made it look easy throughout and got a lot of help from his receivers, who seemingly had forever to run after every catch. Looking ahead to tonight, Falk, rather unbelievably, needs just two touchdown passes to break the WSU single-season touchdown record set by Connor Halliday in 2013.
Prior to last week, Falk was on a 42 touchdown pace without a bowl, which bumped up to 43 after last Saturday's dominance. That, of course, would break Mariota's Pac-12 record of 42 set in his 15-game season last year. Now that the Cougars are bowl-eligible, however, Falk's 47 touchdown pace would pass Mariota with ease. Crazy stuff.
Pac-12 single-season yards record: Sean Mannion - 4,662
This is the portion of this post where we start reaching uncharted territory for not only WSU and Pac-12 quarterbacks, but any quarterback to play collegiate football. After tacking on nearly 500 more yards last week, Falk increased his bowl-game pace for yards in a season by 60 yards and is now expected to finish with 5,347 yards. That number would would break Sean Mannion's Pac-12 record by 685 yards in the same number of games.
By late next Saturday, Falk may have already broke Halliday's school record of 4,597 passing yards set in 2013, and could easily find himself atop the Pac-12 single-season passing yards list. And then get to play two more games to pad those stats.
NCAA single-season attempts record: B.J. Symons - 719
After chucking it 55 more times against Arizona State, Falk has now attempted 503 passes on the year and is now on pace for 727 attempts. That would break the NCAA record for completions in a season, cruising past former Mike Leach quarterback B.J. Symons, who set the current record of 719 during his ridiculous 2005 season that saw him set the NCAA record for passing yards in a season, as well. Halliday, in 2013, came close to setting the record, finishing with 714, which, of course, is the WSU single-season record. There's a decent chance both of those records fall this season.
NCAA single-season completions record: Graham Harrell - 512
As he continues to throw the ball more than any quarterback ever has, Falk has maintained his record-setting pace for completions. Falk completed 36 more passes last week against Arizona State, which is a little below his per-game average of about 40 this season. However, with 353 completions through nine games, Falk, on pace for 518 total completions, is in a dead heat with Graham Harrell's 2008 season in which he set the NCAA record with 512 completions. Halliday holds the WSU and Pac-12 record for completions in a season with 449, which Falk should easily surpass with a game or two to spare.
Graphical look at Leach quarterbacks' passing yards in a season
A new addition this week, we take a look at pace in terms of passing yards for Leach quarterbacks through the years. Symons, as previously mentioned, holds the record with 5,883 yards in a 13-game season, while Harrell's 2007 and 2008 years of 5,705 yards and 5,111 yards, respectively, round out the top three.
At his current pace, Falk would finish with 5,347 passing yards, the third-highest total in a single season for any Leach quarterback. Kliff Kingsbury is the only other Leach quarterback not mentioned to have passed for at least 5,000 yards in a season, a feat he set in 2002 when he tossed for 5,017 yards as a redshirt senior, though he did so in 14 games. Falk would be the only underclassmen to achieve the feat, as Symons, Harrell and Kingsbury were each at least in their redshirt junior seasons when throwing for 5,000-plus yards.
*** As you can see in the graph above, Halliday, prior to his broken leg last season, was on pace to throw for 5,809 yards, which would be the second-most yards thrown by any quarterback ever. He was also on pace to throw for 48 touchdowns and shatter the NCAA record for attempts (789) and completions (538) in a single season. ***
Pac-12 single-season touchdown record: J.J. Stokes and Mario Bailey - 17
While he still had a productive game and came up with several big catches against the Sun Devils, Marks was held out of the end zone in the win. However, the redshirt junior is still on pace to tie the long-standing Pac-12 record of 17 touchdown receptions in a single season set by Washington's Mario Bailey (1991) and UCLA's J.J. Stokes (1993).
With one more touchdown, Marks will tie Vince Mayle's WSU single-season touchdown receptions record of 12 set last season. Here's to betting Marks finds pay dirt tonight against the Bruins — tying or, as I'm betting on, passing the school record — to continue his dominant season. He's a special, special talent, so enjoy watching him while you can, because the NFL is on line one.
Pac-12 single-season receiving yards record: Brandin Cooks - 1,730
While it's a lofty number to reach, if anyone is going to break the Pac-12 record for receiving yards in a season, it's going to be a receiver in this Air Raid offense. Oregon State's Brandin Cooks holds the conference record with 1,730 receiving yards in 2013, which is 430 yards more than Marks' current pace of 1,300 receiving yards, though crazier things have happened.
We've yet to see Marks really break out with that huge yardage game this year, something Mayle did a couple times last season when he set the WSU single-season record for receiving yards in a season with 1,483. That's a record that you can bet Marks has his eye on, and is very much still in reach.