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Ask CougCenter Anything: Is this really the week Luke Falk gets right?

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Plus, Boise State tears are absolutely delicious.

NCAA Football: Boise State at Washington State James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to the CougCenter mailbag. If you want to participate next week, send your Washington State Cougars queries to cougcenter@gmail.com. On to the questions!


Is OSU really the game for Falk to correct his issues? What's stopping him from sitting in the pocket for 5 seconds against a bad defensive line? What's stopping him from waiting until our receivers beat up on their backup corners? Wouldn't a decent defense and a bad offense be better (Hello Nevada)?

Deek

Nuss: Well thanks, Deek — now I’m contemplating the possibility that our awesome quarterback is permanently broken because he might not be able to light up the Oregon State Beavers. Really needed that tonight. You’re harshing my epic-comeback-triple-overtime-victory buzz, man.

PJ: If Falk doesn’t get right in the next couple weeks, starting with OSU, it’s probably never happening. I know he has eviscerated the Beavers every year, but at this point, I’m not overly optimistic. I’m certain he has the tools to come out of his funk, but nobody can know what his thought process is, and that seems to be the problem.

Cassino: Falk always lights up the Beavers. If it doesn’t click for h- you know what, I don’t even want to put that in the ether. He will throw for 400+ and multiple TDs. Write it down for posterity.

Washington State v Oregon State
One of Falk’s many awesome days against the Beavers.
Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images

Sherwood: Oh I already wrote down “lights up the Beavers.” Saving that for later.

Preston: He has thrown for 1,872,345 yards, 45 touchdowns and -4 INTs against them in his career no matter what team it’s been. Yes, it is a get right game.

That stat line is real, by the way.

PJ: The -4 INTs is probably the most impressive stat among those. Is a negative INT a touchdown? Just a completion? Need a ruling here.

Nuss: You just know Andersen is going to drop eight the first however many plays, though, right? Just to see what Falk will do? What are the odds WSU comes out in five wide just to make sure Falk can’t dump it off?

Cassino: Six wides. Just to be extra sure.

Nuss: By the way, I think the answer to “what’s stopping him from ...” is actually pretty simple: Mike Leach. Because goodness knows Falk does not want to go back to that sideline having done the things you’re describing, Deek.

Sherwood: Occam’s razor points to us all being incredibly impatient individuals. Go throw me some touchdowns, boys!


Hi Guys,

It's no question that Luke Falk has struggled and has just not looked the same in his previous games, really going back to the Colorado game last year which some of you have pointed out. One thing I have noticed that I'm not sure if any of you have pointed out, is that was the first game for Falk after Cracraft's ACL tear. So, I'm wondering if perhaps Luke felt like he lost his "safety net" in River and consequently lost a lot of confidence on his down the field throws which has just seemingly carried over for him mentally. I question his confidence now because he seems to be almost scared or hesitant to push the ball down field which seems like a confidence issue to me. I know obviously River's injury is not the one reason why Luke played lesser down the stretch last year and to open this season, but I'm curious as to what you guys think as it being a sort of starting domino for Luke's "regression".

Jamie R.

Dudley: It's also the time WSU started playing tough defenses. Colorado, UW and Minnesota aren't Oregon State, Cal or Arizona. His decision-making in the Montana State game was more worrisome to me because....it's Montana State.

PJ: While I do acknowledge that losing Cracraft hurt the offense, I don’t buy this theory. Cracraft also got hurt during the ASU game in 2015. The next week, WSU went to 19th-ranked UCLA. Despite the fact that he got temporarily knocked out of the game, Falk threw for 331 yards and two TDs, including the game-winner. He certainly didn’t lack confidence in that game.

Washington State v Colorado
Maybe this game actually broke our QB.
Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

I don’t know if something happened to Falk’s mentality before or during that Colorado game, but that game was weird (and cold to watch from the bleachers). Falk went deep much more often than he normally does. And if Marks doesn’t drop that gimme TD for a 21-7 lead, the story almost certainly is different. I think it’s bigger than Cracraft. Falk came up with Dom Williams, Vince Mayle (briefly), Gabe Marks and Cracraft, among others. As those guys moved on, a big part of me thinks Falk’s confidence and trust moved on with them. But I’m a History major who loves drinking beer and yelling at clouds, so I could be 100% wrong.

Cassino: I don’t know about confidence/Cracraft necessarily, but I wouldn’t be surprised if his feel for this group of receivers isn’t as good, with the exception being Tavares Martin. Isaiah Johnson-Mack played only sparingly last year; Renard Bell, Jamire Calvin, are first year guys; CJ Dimry is only there in spots.

PJ: I think that’s why Hilinski seemed to play so much better last Saturday. He’s young(er) like those guys, and maybe he has a better connection from practice with them? I really have no idea, though. These are college-aged young men, after all, and trying to figure out why they play the way they do from week to week is an exercise in futility.

Nuss: Shouldn’t his feel for Tavares Martin Jr. be pretty good at this point, though? He’s only been targeted on about 16 percent of throws, third on the team behind James Williams and Johnson-Mack. And the catch rate on those is only 67 percent. This is part of what makes me think it’s less about familiarity than something else.

Cassino: Who other than Martin (and Boobie) would a defense worry about at this point? He’s probably seeing a lot of coverage being rolled his way.

Dudley: I agree that Falk may feel his current crop of receivers isn't as experienced. Cougs lost some supporting actors—John Thompson to graduation and Robert Lewis this season to a presumed injury. So while I don't think it's just an issue with losing Cracraft, but a larger issue with so much turnover at receiver. Dezmon Patmon so far hasn't lived up to his performance this past spring, either.


First and for most you are a gifted writer and I do love what you wrote but you slam Boise State as a child of the poor and for some reason give their defense ZERO credit. Sorry Washington State has trouble beating FCS schools, it took scheduling a bad FCS school for you guys to get off 1-0 and a couple fluke plays for you guys to rally to go 2-0.

Keep in mind Boise State DOMINATED Luke Falk for the second year in a row, so you have to give credit where credit is due.

Any common sense fan that watched this game saw that Washington State was an overhyped machine that couldn't put themselves in gear until Boise State took their foot off the pedal to early in the 4th quarter.

Go back and watch the film from 2016 and on Saturday night, Boise State played a lot of press coverage on a receiving corps that will probably get dominated in PAC-12 play (I personally hope that you guys don't stink it up in PAC-12 play, because the better you look the better Boise State looks). Once Boise State got up 21 points they started playing a prevent defense that allowed Washington State to dink it down the field, and it was bad play calling by Boise State not to run the ball, and a costly pick 6 that really flipped the momentum of the game, as the PAC-12 came out and said, the officials also got the turnover by Mattison in the redzone wrong as it was not a football move. The one "big" play Washington State had on Boise State was a broken coverage touchdown, ask any Cougar fan, they sure don't want to be playing Boise State in the future.

Finally Washington State thinks they own the state of Washington, yet they will always be a second tier program to their big brothers in Seattle.

David R.

Nuss: I think David is mad, you guys.

Dudley: Todd Belcastro? Is that you?!?!

Nuss: Falk threw for 480 yards and four touchdowns last season. There was the one interception, though, so ... dominated, I guess.

Cassino: Salty e-mail is best e-mail. I bathe in the tears of the haters.

Dudley: Did Boise State take their foot off the pedal? Or did Cozart throw a pick-six? And did that one guy whose name I don't even know get in the way of one of our punts? And is taking your foot off the pedal what happened when the Bronco secondary let Jamire Calvin free for his touchdown?

Nuss: Their prevent defense sure didn’t prevent much is all I’m sayin’.

Cassino: The best part of this e-mail is that we’re an “overhyped machine.” He basically just called us Ohio State, you guys. #WeWantBama

Sherwood: The only machine I’m aware of is the one that produces David R’s tears. Oh and the one that “lights up the Beavers.”

Dudley: *foremost

Sherwood: Has anyone told David R. that Boise State gave up a 31-10 lead?

Nuss: *In six minutes and 16 seconds. Also, Boise State probably should have put their foot back on the pedal at some point. This isn’t the Mountain West. You gotta bring it for 60 minutes.

PJ: Was David R. in the same gifted program that you were, Jeff? Is there some axe to grind that we’re not aware of? Somebody might want to tell David from Pocatello that Falk completed 77 percent of his passes for 480 yards and four touchdowns against Boise Trucking School last season. But yeah, DOMINATED. I’ll hang up and listen.

Nuss: I think it’s pretty clear from what Tyler Hilinski was able to do that the only person who dominated Luke Falk was Luke Falk. Congrats on that, Boise? I guess?

Preston: We get it, you want in the Pac-12. Ain’t happening.

Also, “Finally Washington State thinks they own the state of Washington, yet they will always be a second tier program to their big brothers in Seattle.”

LOL, find me the person who thinks that because I’d like for them to purchase a bridge I’ve just built in the Mohave. Superb straw man.

Nuss: And as a bonus, David — since I know you attended a school much less prestigious academically than WSU — here’s some free help from an English teacher. You’re welcome!


Why in the world can't I buy a new Anthacite or White WSU jersey. Only NEW jersey available is Crimson Number 1. Huge missed opportunity! For an athletic dept who's in debt why wont they take my money!??!?!?!?

Matt M.

Nuss: Am I the only who who had no idea college jerseys were such a big deal to so many people?

Dudley: You aren't the only one, Jeff.

PJ: I thought we covered the jersey thing. Stop wearing college jerseys. Eric Mele isn’t going to call you out of the bleachers to run down on the kickoff team. PS - If you see me at the USC game, please don’t beat me up for this lava-hot take.

Sherwood: Well, they’re certainly not going to invite you down if you’re wearing the wrong jersey!

Preston: I’m still willing to bet it’s got nothing to do with the athletic department and everything to do with Nike. I could look through the contract but, yanno, lazy.


NCAA Football: Montana State at Washington State James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

If you could be Mike Leach for a press conference, what shenanigans would you get in to?

Sincerely,

Mynor L.

Dudley: I would refuse to answer any "talk about" questions....because they aren't questions. I would ask the reporter to please repeat that in the form of a question. Sometimes, public humiliation is the best way to change behavior, or so they say.

Cassino: “Fire Rod Gilmore. I will not be taking questions. Thank you.”

PJ: Did you know that WSU doesn’t have tight ends, Jesse? I HAD NO IDEA.

I would wear a #CJK5H t-shirt, for starters.

Sherwood: Are there any questions in this room pertaining to football rather than Gettysburg?

Nuss: I would just try to give the most incoherent answer possible to the most mundane question and see if people would think it was still funny just because I’m Quirky Mike Leach The Pirate Arrrrrrrrrr.

Preston: Cough 34 times and leave.


I desperately want Martin Stadium to take on a reputation of being a really difficult place to play for opponents. I’d estimate that about 40%(?) of the fans left around the 3rd / 4th quarter so there was a lot of space to fill for OT. When overtime started and the field gets cut in half, do you have any issue with the student section not shifting their seats toward the sections of the stands that OT is being played? With plenty of space, I was disappointed to see the students in attendance hanging around on the opposite side of the field.

Go Cougs,

Cole A.

Nuss: Personally, I’d prefer that be unnecessary. But I don’t know if that’s reasonable, either. So yeah ... move on down!

Dudley: I think it was against Oregon in 2000 that students did that because the place was about half full or less. I'm not opposed, as long as they don't encroach on my space!

Sherwood: Life would be easier if we could treat the youth like Tetris pieces.

PJ: The odd part is “that’s a really tough place to play” is something I’ve heard a lot when a talking head is describing WSU/Pullman, even when the team stunk (which is a lot!). I think many of these TV people believe that since opponents have to drive an extra 45 minutes from an airport that suddenly they’re less likely to play well, which, what? I don’t have an issue with the students moving toward either end. Hell, I wish the whole crowd would do that same thing. Can’t hurt.