'People haven’t been giving us respect until they absolutely had to. And now they have to,' receiver Gabe Marks said. Plus, QB Luke Falk passed concussion protocol at half.
PASADENA, Calif. – Washington State’s 31-27 win over No. 18 UCLA felt just that much sweeter to the Cougars because of a little incident in warmups before the game.
Gabe Marks and Jeremiah Allison both said the Cougars felt “disrespected” by UCLA because instead of allowing the visitors to have half the field in pre-game warmups, the Bruins sprawled out and continued throwing the ball back and forth on what should have been WSU’s side of the field.
“We’re supposed to split the field. Even if it’s your home field, you should have the decency to let us warm up without interfering with our warm ups,” Allison said. “They didn’t respect us. They threw the ball through our warm up.”
WSU’s strength coach Jason Loscalzo told the team not to let that get to them. “Focus up,” Loscalzo said, “We’re on a business trip.”
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Then, linebacker Ivan McLennan “went berserk” and fired up the team, Allison said.
“Ivan turned it up and said, ‘They disrespected us. They’ve gotta pay for it,” Allison said.
To Marks, who led WSU’s receivers with 12 catches, the pre-game incident was just another sign that the Cougars don’t get the respect they deserve from opponents.
“People haven’t been giving us respect until they absolutely had to. And now they have to,” Marks said. “I don’t think anybody is going to come in there throwing the ball on our side of the field during warmups. I don’t think anybody is going to try that again. But we’ll see. People like to test us.”
Falk passed concussion protocol at halftime
Quarterback Luke Falk said he went through a battery of concussion tests at half time before WSU’s medical staff allowed him to go back into the game in the third quarter.
Falk was knocked out of the game temporarily toward the end of the second quarter when he hit his head hard after he was sacked by UCLA’s Jacob Tuioti-Mariner.
The Cougars’ medical staff initially took away his helmet and led him into the locker room for evaluation.
“I got my bell rung a little bit and they just wanted to make sure I was good,” Falk said. “I did all the tests and it turns out I was good and able to come back in the game.”
Falk said he was put through a concussion test that consisted of “a bunch of stuff, there’s about 30 things” and “I passed with flying colors.”
WSU coach Mike Leach said he had no influence over the decision the medical staff made to allow Falk to re-enter the game and said he didn’t think it was Falk’s decision either.
“I don’t think Luke had a lot to do with it,” Leach said. “He talked to the doctors, and here he goes. I didn’t even see him till midway through halftime, and the trainer said, ‘He’s playing, and so he went out and played.”
Offensive line shuffle pays off
UCLA sacked Falk four times by the end of the first half, and some of that had to do with the play of WSU’s offensive line, which was missing left tackle Joe Dahl for the second-straight game.
“We didn’t protect very well,” Leach said.
So in the second half, WSU made adjustments. The Cougars moved Gunnar Eklund back to left guard – where he’d played all year until last week when he moved to left tackle to sub for Dahl. Eduardo Middleton moved from left guard back to his normal position of right guard because “he’s had a lot of snaps playing next to (right tackle) Cole Madison and we felt like that might get the best out of both of them,” Leach said.
Jacob Seydel, who started the game at right guard, was taken out of the lineup.
Instead, WSU inserted redshirt freshman Andre Dillard at left tackle, and this seemed to help against UCLA’s fast pass rushers.
“Dillard is real quick and athletic. He’s a quick footed guy,” Leach said. “They have that speed off the edge, so we tried to do something to counter their speed on the edge.”
It seemed to help. UCLA had only two more sacks in the second half – half of what the Bruins managed in the first.