As the Washington State Cougars’ record-setting quarterback prepares to play in the biggest game of his career, Stefanie Loh of The Seattle Times took a look into the background of Luke Falk. The guy who started as a preferred walk-on will look to cap a story-book career on Saturday against the 9-2 Washington Huskies in the 110th Apple Cup.
Loh took a trip to the home of Falk and on Monday came out with this piece about the rise of the owner of every major passing record in the Pac-12. From a small town in Utah to a small town in Washington, Falk has always been on an uphill climb.
Because he was forced to sit out his junior year of high school due to a Utah State High School Athletic Commission ruling, he missed a lot of the key time of recruiting. Throwing for 3,618 yards and 36 touchdowns his senior year wasn't enough to make up for the lost year as he settled for a preferred walk-on job behind five quarterbacks in a small town similar to the one in which he grew up.
Falk didn't give up after entering his senior year with no offers and he wasn't going to give up on becoming the starting quarterback for the Cougars. So he kept pushing, earning his way onto the travel squad as a redshirt freshman walk-on. One by one, Falk made his way up the depth chart and finally in 2014 against USC he was given his chance. While the fans inside Martin Stadium were heartbroken that Connor Halliday's career was over with a broken leg, nobody in that stadium knew they were witnessing the start to a career of one of the best Pac-12 quarterbacks to ever play. Except for the man himself.
It didn't get any easier for Falk, however, as he has spent the next three and a half years proving everyone wrong. After a quarterback competition in 2015, Falk had a stretch of 5 games where he threw for 23 touchdowns and over 400 passing yards in 4 of those 5 games, cementing the coaches decision to start Falk before being sat due to a concussion to finish the season.
Fast forward to this year and the adversity is still there. In just the second game of the season, Falk was benched for backup Tyler Hilinski, who led the Cougars to a triple-overtime victory over Boise State. The following week Falk showed Cougar fans his will to not give up, throwing for 396 yards and 6 touchdowns. Then against Arizona seven games later, Falk was again benched for Hilinski after throwing for 93 yards on 13 of 23 passing. The following week he threw for 337 yards and 3 touchdowns in a win over Stanford to finish his senior season undefeated at home.
With one game remaining to determine how this season will be looked at, there is one guaranteed thing: Falk will not be giving up. And while Vegas and others are looking at the 15th ranked Huskies as a 9 point favorite over the 14th ranked Cougars, he is looking to make the small town that felt like home proud.
Will the bye week mess with 14th-ranked WSU’s momentum going into Saturday’s Apple Cup? | The Seattle Times
Football coaches are a paranoid bunch, says Mike Leach, who's caught himself wondering about how the bye week will affect his team against UW.
Mike Leach: Washington State not drawing from ‘extra private reserve’ to find focus, effort for Apple Cup | The Spokesman-Review
Mike Leach expects that the Cougars will be raring to play by the time 5 p.m. rolls around on Saturday night, but the fact the opponent is wearing purple should have nothing to do with that, Washington State’s coach says.
krem.com | Apple Cup brings friendly wager between school presidents
Leader of the Pac: How WSU’s Luke Falk defied the odds to become a Cougar legend | The Seattle Times
But even as records fall left and right and the Cougars pile up W’s, this senior year hasn’t gone as smoothly as Falk had hoped. Perhaps that’s to be expected as he has had to fight for every shred of success he’s enjoyed.
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WSU opens the tournament against Saint Joseph's, Thursday, Nov. 23 at 3 p.m.