Washington State’s Luke Falk finished 37 of 55 passing for 369 yards and a touchdown, but was responsible for three interceptions and a lost fumble.
For the second consecutive year, Washington State quarterback Luke Falk threw three interceptions in the Apple Cup, and this time it resulted in the No. 14 Cougars losing 41-14 to No. 15 Washington.
Falk finished 37 of 55 passing for 369 yards and a touchdown, but was responsible for three interceptions and a lost fumble.
Jojo McIntosh picked off Falk on WSU’s third drive, Ezekiel Turner intercepted Falk’s pass meant for Tavares Martin Jr. toward the end of the second quarter, and Ben Burr-Kirven picked Falk off in the third quarter with WSU down 27-0.
Falk’s fumble came at the start of the second quarter, when Keishawn Bierra hit him on the end of a scramble to derail a promising drive.
“I just forced the ball, tried to make a play,” Falk said of the picks. “On the one where it was behind the sticks, and on the one at the end of the half, I was trying to do something on third down. I’ve just gotta be better.”
But despite Falk’s tough night, WSU coach Mike Leach kept him in the game instead of yanking him for Tyler Hilinski the way he did against Boise State and Arizona. Leach said he never really considered pulling his three-year starting quarterback.
“Luke’s done a tremendous job, that type of thing. (He’s had a) great career, statistically the best Pac-12 quarterback in history,” Leach said. “Sometimes you’ve just gotta fight through it.”
Leach said he stuck with Falk also because he didn’t think Falk’s play was the only reason WSU struggled.
“If just he’s playing poorly, then it’s an individual thing you can address,” Leach said. “I thought our entire team played poorly. Somehow, as coaches we weren’t able to get the anxiety out of their heads and get the best performance out of them as far as going out on the field and playing together. We were anxious, geeked up, we were hyped. We played anxious, played frantic.
“The biggest thing was that the team as a whole needed to settle down. It wasn’t a Luke-specific problem. I could have stuck Hilinski in there and had the D-line massacre him too.”
Washington dominated WSU up front, with the Huskies sacking Falk five times, and managing to consistently bring heat with only a three- or four-man rush.
Consequently, UW dropped eight men to cover the pass and the Cougars receivers found it tough to get separation. So in the instances when Falk had time to throw, he had no one open to throw to.
“It makes it a lot (more) difficult,” receiver Tay Martin said. “It’s tough trying to pass the ball, but we’ll execute more.”
As a result, running back Jamal Morrow was WSU’s leading receiver, hauling in 10 passes for 76 yards.
“Their strength is the offensive line and defensive line, and I think that showed today,” Leach said. “They did a really good job there on both the lines of scrimmage. The biggest thing is we went out there, played anxious, squandered all kinds of opportunities in the first half and it became a series of overcorrections after that.”
Leach said he saw “about three different Luke Falks.”
“I saw in the first half a guy (who) was a complete stranger. I saw kind of in the middle of the game, just a guy struggling to get on track, which I thought he courageously did,” Leach said. “Then I saw the Luke Falk at the end, that’s the guy I’m a lot more familiar with, with good tempo, he bounced around, and the team responds to him.”