You've already read all about the scary hit that knocked Luke Falk out of the win over Colorado, leaving his status for the Apple Cup this Friday up in the air and opening the door for a media frenzy, deserving or not. I'm going to leave that talk to the Twitter doctors and use this space to continue our look at Falk, Gabe Marks and Dom Williams' impressive paces.
Falk, prior to exiting early in the third quarter, was putting up another vintage stat line against the Buffaloes, taking what the offense was giving him and spreading the ball around to his receivers with ease. The redshirt sophomore completed a whopping 77.1 percent of his 35 pass attempts for 199 yards and a touchdown toss to Williams on a perfectly executed screen play in the red zone. Williams finished with seven catches for 61 yards in his final game at Martin Stadium.
Redshirt freshman Peyton Bender took over for Falk and, after a shaky start, settled in and made some big time throws, several of which landed into the hands of Marks, who finished with 11 catches for 110 yards and a touchdown on a perfectly thrown fade.
Unlikely to get an update on Falk's status for the Apple Cup prior to warmups on Friday morning, resident graphing extraordinaire Kirt Onthank made a few adjustments to this week's visuals to account for Falk's missed snaps against Colorado and predictions moving forward. In short, the graphs have included points if Falk plays in both the Apple Cup and the bowl game (2 games), or just the bowl game (1 game), but Kirt explains the changes and reasoning below.
Part of making good predictions is knowing under what circumstance a certain method works well, and under what circumstances it tends to fail. We have a set of circumstance that linear regression tends to fail at making accurate predictions. It works very well for predicting more distant points (provided you have good reason to suspect a linear progression) and minimizing the effects of outlier data. As long as the outliers do not cluster at the ends of the regression, or the predictions are sufficiently in the future to have natural dampening of outlier effects, linear regression tends to perform well. However, that is not the case with Falk. We are predicting only one or two additional games ahead, and the last performance was a injury truncated game (a significant outlier in the data). Linear regression "thinks" over the long term that last game's low output would not be typical, but in this case there isn't enough time for "regression to the mean". Anyhow, all that is to say, the linear regression projections are unrealistically sanguine.
Additionally, Kirt ran 10,000 simulations to calculate the probability of Falk breaking said records in one or two more games. In short, these simulations assume season averages and variation in attempts, completion percentage, touchdown percentage, and yardage per completion, assuming Falk plays full games.
As always, thanks to Kirt for all of this awesomeness.
Pac-12 single-season touchdown record: Marcus Mariota - 42
As expected, Falk, who was previously on pace to shatter Mariota's record of 42 touchdown passes in two fewer games, now sees his pace fall behind after tossing just one touchdown — his 36th of the season — last week in a little over half a game. Our simulator predicts Falk would throw for 39 touchdowns should he miss the Apple Cup but play in the bowl game, though linear regression suggests he would fall one short of the record with 41 touchdown tosses.
If Falk were to play in both the Apple Cup and the bowl game, the simulator thinks he breaks the record by one score while regression is a little more optimistic with Falk finishing the season with 44 touchdowns. According to our probability tables, Falk has a 66.5% chance of breaking the Pac-12 record in two games, which drops to 10.54% should he miss the Apple Cup but play in the bowl game.
At his current simulation and linear regression pace, Falk would finish with the fifth-most touchdowns thrown by a Leach quarterback behind B.J. Symons, Graham Harrell and Kliff Kingsbury.
Pac-12 single-season yards record: Sean Mannion - 4,662
Despite playing only a little over half the game, Falk still tossed for 199 yards, but that dented his season-long pace with a bowl game from 5,337 to 5,251 yards, if he were to play two full games. The simulation for two games, however, is much more conservative, predicting Falk to toss for 5,061 yards, though both two-game projections would break Mannion's conference rather record easily.
Although, there's a real possibility Falk only plays in one game, in which case the simulator thinks he finishes with 4,660 yards, two yards shy of Mannion's record. Linear regression for one game calculates out to 4,841 yards. The probability numbers for the Pac-12 passing yards record is much more optimistic, giving Falk a 99.89% chance to break the record in two games and a 48.98% chance in just one game.
NCAA single-season attempts record: B.J. Symons - 719
If Falk, who still managed to attempt 33 passes against Colorado, were to miss the Apple Cup, he has a 0% chance of breaking Symons' attempts record of 719. The simulator projects he'll attempt 647 passes and the linear model thinks he would finish with 662, both clearly short of the record set by Symons at Texas Tech in 2003.
Sitting at 591 passes right now, if Falk were to play in both games, he'd have an 11.58% chance of passing Symons. The linear regression for two games thinks Falk finishes with 718 attempts while the simulator suggests 702 attempts, both short of the NCAA record. Connor Halliday's school record of 714 attempts is now looking extremely iffy, as well.
NCAA single-season completions record: Graham Harrell - 512
Even if Falk were to play in the Apple Cup and the bowl game, Graham Harrell's completions record of 512 is also a long shot at this point, as our probability table gives him a 9.86% chance to break the NCAA record with two games played (0% with one game played). Having only completed 27 passes against Colorado, 12 shy of his previous per game average, Falk is now on pace to 509 passes if he were to play in two games, according to the regression model. The simulator projects a 497 completions finish in two games.
There's still a realistic chance that Falk, with just one game played, can break the school record for completions as both the regression (469) model and simulator (457) project him to pass Halliday's record of 449.
Graphical look at Leach quarterbacks' passing yards in a season
While Falk's season-long yardage pace dropped by over 100 yards from last week, if he were to play Saturday he'd still be on pace to throw for the third-most yards of any Leach quarterback. With one additional game, Falk would be on pace to finish with the fifth-most yards for a Leach quarterback.
Symons, as mentioned, holds the record with 5,883 yards in a 13-game season, while Harrell's 2007 and 2008 seasons of 5,705 and 5,111 yards, respectively, round out the top three. Sonny Combie threw for 4,742 yards in 2004, the fourth-most by Leach quarterback.
*** 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 receptions record: J.J. Stokes and Mario Bailey - 17
The Gabe Marks train continues to roll on. The redshirt junior added another score against Colorado, hauling in a perfectly thrown fade from Bender in the back corner of the end zone to push his single-season school record to 14. With three games to play, Marks is on pace to tie the Pac-12 record of 17 set by Washington's Mario Bailey (1991) and UCLA's J.J. Stokes (1993). Regardless of who's under center for the Cougars on Friday, Marks is going to get his, especially after being miffed by the Biletnikoff Award. Have fun with that, UW secondary.
WSU all-time receiving touchdowns record: Jason Hill - 32
Another week, another score for Dom Williams, who we get to see dominating opposing secondaries just twice more in a Washington State uniform. Sad face. The redshirt senior has 29 touchdown catches in his career, three fewer than Jason Hill's school record of 32. At his current pace, Williams would fall one short of the record, but I think he finds pay dirt three more times this year, winding up tied atop the Washington State all-time receiving touchdowns list. Man, I'm going to miss Dom.