Leading by example: Falk focused on wins, not draft stock

With more than 7,500 yards in 20 games and a completion percentage of 68.9 percent, redshirt junior quarterback Luke Falk has become one of the most prolific passers in college football.

After walking on in 2013 and taking a redshirt season, Falk was thrown into action sooner than expected, as incumbent starter Connor Halliday went down during week 10 of the 2014 season with a leg injury, missing the rest of the season.

Falk came in and played well, putting up nearly 1,800 yards in the season’s final three games on a completion percentage of 63.9 and won his first ever collegiate start against Oregon State University.

“I never thought he was limited in a specific spot,” Head Coach Mike Leach said. “He walked on because he didn’t have many schools on him and we were full.”

Falk would reveal the truth in that statement in his first full year at the helm. Throwing for more than 4,500 yards and 38 touchdowns, Falk, from Logan, Utah, found himself selected as a semifinalist for the Davey O’Brien award, which recognizes the top quarterback in the country.

Even with all of the stats and accolades he has achieved, Falk still has a drive to lift the team to a higher level.

“I don’t really check the stats to be honest,” Falk said, “mainly the win column.”

That mentality was able to shine through in Falk’s first full season as a starter. He led the team to a 9-3 overall record and was an integral part of the first WSU bowl victory in more than a decade.

Becoming one of the most efficient quarterbacks in the country and leading the team to one of its best seasons in years is no simple task. Falk has been able to accomplish both of these feats through constant study and commitment to the game.

Falk said that he goes through about five notebooks a season, taking notes on his previous games, what he can do better and what he needs to work on.

“He is really committed to studying the game and he relentlessly tries to improve,” Leach said. “His commitment is probably his strongest quality.”

His commitment to improvement has been apparent. Through the first three games of this season, Falk has raised his completion percentage by 5 percent from last season, increased his passer rating by nearly 10 points and is currently on pace for a career-high 44 touchdowns this season.

In Falk’s eyes, that is still not enough. The Cougars have lost two of the three games they played, which lets Falk know that he needs to step up.

“This year I’ve got to be more of an energy guy,” Falk said. “We’ve got guys like Gabe (Marks) but I’ve got to step up in that role, too.”

Falk’s dedication to the win column is what he said pushes him to be great.

Often when a player has astronomical stats like Falk, the only conversation around them is Heisman voting and draft stock. The third-year starter has done a fine job of keeping the talk focused on the team.

Being one of the nation’s top quarterbacks, there are a few discussions of Falk’s draft stock, but more talk is focused on the success of the program and how to kick-start conference play.

Falk is one of the strongest passers in the country, ranking third in the nation in completion percentage and in the top-20 in passing yards, but he does not let those statistics get in the way of his goals. The former walk-on focuses on taking his team to new heights.

“If I throw for 20 yards and we win the game, I’ll be happy,” Falk said. “If I have a completion percentage of 5 percent and we win the game, I’ll be happy.”

Falk will lead the Cougars (1-2, 0-0) into their matchup against the University of Oregon (2-2, 0-1) at 6:30 p.m. Saturday. The game will be at Martin Stadium and broadcasted live on Pac-12 Network.