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Will Luke Falk make a leap in final season?

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The QB nearly duplicated his sophomore year stats in 2016

Washington State v Arizona State Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Tuesday and Wednesday multiple writers released their 2017 top-25’s and Thursday, ESPN’s Pac-12 blog tried their hand at predicting individual honors for the conference’s 2017 season. WSU quarterback Luke Falk was one of three players mentioned for offensive player of the year.

While I, like you, hope that Falk sets opposing defenses ablaze in 2017, his stats from this season don’t compare favorably to the two other quarterbacks mentioned, Jake Browning and Sam Darnold. Falk threw for more yards than both of them and more touchdowns than Darnold, but did it with much less efficiency.

Falk finished 2016 with a very respectable passer rating of 145.6. Browning and Darnold both eclipsed 160, while crushing Falk in adjusted passing yards per attempt (very similar to yards per attempt but it gives a negative weight to interceptions and a positive one to touchdowns). Browning and Darnold were both exceeded 9 AY/A while Falk registered 7.5 AY/A. The more traditional Y/A tells a similar story.

Now, I don’t want to bash on our own too much, but would like to illustrate how much he needs to improve to be considered among the conference’s elite. It’s unlikely that both of the other quarterbacks will take a big step back, so it’s on Falk to get to their level. To see how likely that might be, I decided to look at the career progression of three other Mike Leach quarterbacks: Kliff Kingsbury, Graham Harrell and Connor Halliday.

Kingsbury and Halliday had similar careers, improving each season and having a senior year that looks very statistically similar to what Falk has done the last two seasons. The former Coug gunslinger and current Texas Tech Head Coach made significant leaps in their ultimate seasons to have a passer rating above 143, and an AY/A of roughly 7.5.

Those kind of numbers are what Harrell put up as a sophomore before torching secondary’s in his final two seasons. As junior he made a significant leap, with a passer rating of 157 and an AY/A of 8.5 Both metrics ticked up slightly his senior season.

Will Falk enter a new realm as a passer next season? I sure hope so, but the departure of Gabe Marks and River Cracraft won’t help. The three other quarterbacks improved as they aged, but maybe this just who Falk is as a passer. And you know what? There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. WSU has had a lot of success with him at the helm, and that should continue, leap or not.

*****

Football:

Looking ahead to Pac-12 player, coach of year in 2017 - Pac-12 Blog- ESPN
The USC Trojans could have a lot going for them in 2017 with the return of QB Sam Darnold and all-purpose threat Adoree' Jackson.

Hotline podcast: Pac-12 North recruiting update
The presumed move of Joe Salave’a to the Oregon staff “could hurt Washington State’s island recruiting.” Nonetheless, the Cougars are compiling one of their best classes in years.

Men's Basketball:

Cougars get embarrassed by Stanford 84-54 - CougCenter
Stanford earned its first conference win after dismantling Washington State

Women's Basketball:

Cougars get embarrassed by Stanford 84-54 - CougCenter
Stanford earned its first conference win after dismantling Washington State