WSU Cougars

Mike Leach says Luke Falk will start vs. Rutgers

Washington State quarterback Luke Falk (4) passes the ball against Portland State during the second half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Sept. 5, 2015, in Pullman, Wash.
Washington State quarterback Luke Falk (4) passes the ball against Portland State during the second half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Sept. 5, 2015, in Pullman, Wash. AP

Washington State quarterback Luke Falk will play against Rutgers on Saturday, coach Mike Leach said on a conference call with reporters Monday morning.

Falk took a nasty spill and landed hard on his right shoulder in the Cougars’ 24-17 defeat to Portland State last Saturday, but he was throwing at practice on Sunday even though he did not participate fully in all drills.

Peyton Bender is the Cougars’ backup quarterback, and he played in one offensive series against the Vikings, going 1-for-4 for 18 yards before throwing an interception that shut down WSU’s hopes for a tying score.

Leach said Bender did the best he could given the circumstances, but said he thought Falk’s tempo was slow because he was too consumed with “trying to make the perfect play” instead of just executing instinctively.

In an effort to alleviate some of the over-analysis that he thought took place on offense, Leach plans to limit his quarterbacks’ decision-making responsibilities going forward.

“We always want our quarterback to have the ability to check,” Leach said. “But I think we need to curtail some of that. It needs to be more ‘either/or’ than ‘open the thing up.’

“We’ll run the same offense but with regard to his options per play, we will probably limit those.”

Cougars plagued by lack of energy

Several players remarked on Monday that the Cougars’ problems against Portland State stemmed mostly from a lack of energy in the second half and communication breakdowns on both sides of the ball.

“I feel like when we first came out (at the start of the game) we were hyped. When we came out there (after the half) I wouldn’t say we had the same excitement level as in the beginning of the game,” linebacker Jeremiah Allison said.

However, Allison disagreed with a suggestion that Cougars might have been complacent coming out of the locker room with a 10-0 lead.

“I wouldn’t say we got complacent (at halftime), I would say we didn’t come out with the same focus level. We don’t have the room to get complacent,” Allison said. “I believe it was a wakeup call and a reminder that you have to cherish it and embrace every moment of the game.”

Leach agreed with his players’ assessments, but added that in general, the overlying problem was that the team played too tight and tried to do too much.

“I think some of the new guys had some amount of stage fright, and some of the old guys tried too hard to make something happen. They tried to do too much and when it didn’t happen, they got frustrated,” Leach said.

So whose responsibility is it to ensure the team stays hyped up throughout the game?

“Really I think it’s theirs,” Leach said, referring to his players. “If you really want to play, you come out ready to go. ... But I do think we need to get their bodies moving as we come out at the half. I think we need to do that.”

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