Welcome back to the feature in which we are naming a WSU player of the week after a third straight conference victory. This is the first time we've ever done this at CougCenter. History in the making! As you may have noticed, our player of the week does not always follow suit in comparison to the conference's selectee. That will be the case again this week.
Not only did Luke Falk garner the Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week Award for the third time in 10 starts (which has to be some sort of record), he was also named the Walter Camp Offensive Player of the Week. In other words, he had the best day of any player on offense in the nation. We figure those honors are enough for one guy, so we'll recognize a few other players, or in this case, position groups, who were instrumental in WSU's victory over Arizona.
Honorable Mention: The Offensive Line: These guys gave Falk a ton of time Saturday, and also cleared the way for the running backs to amass over 100 yards yet again. Not only that, but Cole Madison was obviously thinking ahead when he held on an apparent Gerard Wicks touchdown late in the game. This brilliant decision enabled the Cougs to bleed even more time off the clock before they scored the touchdown that sealed the game. That Clay McGuire has every base covered with these guys.
2nd Runner-Up: The Defensive Line
Yes, this probably seems a bit strange on the surface, especially given the fact that Arizona scored 35 points on offense. However, these guys harrassed Anu Solomon and the running backs something fierce in the first half, which enabled WSU to get out to an early lead. They were also a big reason why Arizona was held to over 100 yards below their season rushing average. Nick Wilson came into the game averaging six yards per carry and 95 yards per game. Saturday he had six carries for eight yards, total. That was absolutely critical, and the defensive line was a big reason why Wilson never got going.
1st Runner-Up: River Cracraft
Cracraft had easily his best game since Rutgers, as Arizona employed alot of Rutgers' "let's leave the medium area between the seams wide open and see if WSU notices" strategy. Well, Luke Falk did notice, and Cracraft made Arizona pay. He finished tied for the team lead with eight catches, and led the Cougars with 102 yards. Five of those eight catches resulted in first downs. As the guys on the outside draw more of the defense's attention throughout the rest of the season, I expect Cracraft fo get even more passes down the stretch.
Winner: Gabe Marks
In case you didn't know, WSU has had a decent receiver or two pass through its doors over the years. Not one of them ever did what Gabe Marks did on Saturday, when he caught four touchdown passes. Not only that, he did something different every time. On the first score, he powered through a tackler and snuck inside the pylon. On the second, he caught a screen pass and, with some great blocking, raced past everybody for a 43 yard score.
For his third touchdown, he cut toward the sideline just as he reached the end zone, snagged a bullet from Luke Falk and got a foot down as he was falling out of bounds. Finally, Marks' fourth touchdown came when WSU absolutely had to have it. They had just converted a fourth down, and desperately needed six points to put the game away. Following a delay penalty, Falk found Marks streaking across the back of the endzone, and Marks sealed the game with his school record fourth touchdown of the game. That would be it for the Wildcats. Even though they scored again, Marks' touchdown provided the winning margin. Congratulations, Gabe. You're having one hell of a season.