Luke Falk has been one of the most prolific passers in college football ever since he started making regular appearances for Mike Leach’s Washington State Cougars as a freshman in 2014. That’s something that no doubt will be on display when WSU plays Minnesota in the Holiday Bowl at 4 p.m. Tuesday on 710 ESPN Seattle, and it’s why there’s plenty of speculation that he will forego his senior season next year and enter the NFL Draft.
Brock Huard doesn’t think that is what is going to happen, though.
Ahead of calling the Holiday Bowl as ESPN’s color analyst, Huard was given a chance to visit Pullman last week and watch tape with members of the WSU team and coaching staff. When he came back to Seattle, he had a pretty clear idea of what Falk’s decision will be, and why it won’t be to play on Sundays just yet.
“I probably went in thinking Luke Falk is 50-50 on whether he’s gonna return or go pro. I now believe 99 percent he’s going to be back in Pullman,” Huard said. “I think many of the folks around there think that he’s going to be back. The final two games, on the biggest stage against Colorado and Washington, against NFL-level stuff that those evaluators are going to look at, it wasn’t his best work.”
Those games against Colorado and Washington were significant losses for WSU, and like Huard said, they weren’t among the most impressive games of Falk’s career. Against Colorado, he completed just 49.1 percent of his passes (26 for 53), and though he threw three touchdowns to one interception and totaled 325 passing yards, he finished with a 115.5 rating that was his third-worst of the season. And in the Apple Cup, he had his second-lowest rating at 105.8 thanks to a three-interception performance in which he completed just 66 percent of his throws (33 for 50) for 269 yards.
“For eight weeks the guy was on fire … (but) I don’t think he liked the way that the year ended. He can’t. He didn’t like the way Colorado ended, and Washington was even worse,” Huard said.
What else stood out to Huard was how much of WSU’s offense runs through Falk, and one more year of him showing just how capable he is of handling that much responsibility – with a bigger spotlight on him, especially if the Cougars take the Holiday Bowl for their ninth win of the year – could turn him into a big-time draft prospect for 2018.
“Looking at a lot of that tape, and everything that’s in his hands … he controls the run game, the protection, the checks, the pass calls,” Huard said. “Sitting there was a reminder, and somewhat eye-opening, of the amount of control and pressure that’s on Luke’s shoulders.
“A chance to rectify some of that (the losses to Colorado and UW), to get to nine wins … to really set yourself up next year for being the guy in college football at that position, I think is too much to not come back for. That’s why he returns to the Palouse.”