What to make of the Cougars’ 52-23 win over Oregon State? Here’s how it looked from this standpoint
With their 52-23 win over Oregon State on Saturday at Martin Stadium, 21st-ranked Washington State is now 3-0 for the first time since 2005. That’s huge for the Cougars, who have struggled to string together wins over the last decade. It signifies the culmination of their long fight back to national relevance.
Here are three things I took from the game:
1. Luke Falk responded to Mike Leach’s challenge
Senior quarterback Luke Falk was benched for a series against Boise State before he was knocked out of the game, and during the week, Washington State coach Mike Leach criticized Falk for being overly analytical and said he needed to play faster.
How would Falk respond? There should not have been any doubt. This is, after all, the former walk-on who worked his way from No. 7 on the depth chart to become WSU’s starting quarterback.
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Falk rose to the challenge and met it head on. Coming off a career-low 193 passing yards against Boise State, Falk rebounded in a big way, lighting up the scoreboard with six touchdown passes on 37-of-49 passing for 396 yards.
Falk now has 98 career touchdown passes, just one shy of tying USC’s Matt Leinart for No. 3 on the Pac-12’s career passing touchdowns list.
But all numbers aside, it was re-assuring for the Cougars to see Falk revert back to his normally efficient self. Though, it took him a full quarter to do it. WSU’s offense looked a little out of sync in the first quarter. They scored one touchdown, but also punted once and had Jamal Morrow engulfed in WSU’s end zone for a safety.
Falk eventually settled into a rhythm, and once he started connecting with his receivers, the game got away from Oregon State in a hurry.
The offensive line had a better showing too, though, there’s still the matter of the back-to-back sacks it allowed on Falk in the third quarter. From TV replays, both looked like they came against B.J. Salmonson at right guard.
2. Falk and the outside receivers finally got on the same page
Five of Falk’s six touchdown passes went to WSU’s outside receivers, with Tavares Martin Jr. catching three touchdowns and Isaiah Johnson-Mack catching two.
That’s huge because the Cougars struggled to stretch the field vertically in their first two games. Even in the 31-0 shutout against Montana State,…