In a development that really comes as no surprise, it sounds as if Luke Falk will be the starter at quarterback to open WSU's season after coach Mike Leach told a Seattle radio station that "for week one, (Falk) probably puts our best foot forward."
If you've followed Jacob Thorpe's practice reports at all, you know that Falk has gotten the majority of the first team reps over his competitor for the job, Peyton Bender. And Falk -- the "incumbent," so to speak, after making three starts to end last season -- has performed well, while Bender hasn't shown enough to lead observers to believe he's close to leaping to the top.
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That said, in listening to Leach, it might be wise of us to not take this as a permanent decision. Leach was effusive in his praise of Bender.
"I think they both do really good, it's been ridiculously competitive," Leach told Ian Furness and Jason Puckett. "Falk lately has been getting more reps. Bender does a tremendous job, you know Bender as far as a true freshman, redshirt freshman, has picked things up quicker than anybody I've dealt with. It comes off his hand very quickly. The other thing is, Bender's got a calmness to him. But I think Falk, with just experience, film study and all that, for week one, probably puts our best foot forward."
While it can be easy to read too much into a brief soundbite -- especially when it comes to Leach's ramblings -- "experience, film study and all that" isn't exactly the most ringing endorsement, especially when juxtaposed with his comments about Bender. And, if you actually listen to the interview (which you can do below), it sounds even less convincing.
And I don't think it's insignificant that he says "for week one," either. Not that a change at some point down the road is a foregone conclusion; sometimes you get the feeling that a coach is just looking for the first opportunity to make a change to the guy he really likes, but that doesn't feel like the case here. This sounds more like Bender is still growing, and instead of this being some token nod to "competition," the competition will be ongoing, and if Falk's not knocking Leach's socks off, he won't be afraid to make the change at some point down the road if he feels like Bender's ready.
Sometimes, the best guy available changes when dealing with really young players. Just something to keep in the back of your mind.
You can listen to the entire interview below. (Or if you don't want to listen, Jacob Thorpe has transcribed substantial portions here.) The whole thing is thoughtful, entertaining, engaging ... Mike Leach at his best, really. It's well worth your time to listen to, especially his reflections on Elson Floyd. The quarterback stuff starts at 5:30 if you're most interested in that: