Why Washington State's Luke Falk will be a top-10 QB in 2016
While quarterbacks elsewhere in the country get most of the press, Washington State’s Luke Falk is quickly and quietly building an impressive resume in the northwest. In his first full season as a starter in 2015, the Cougars finished 9-3 in games that Falk started, he threw for 4580 yards and 38 touchdowns, and engineered three last minute drives to help lead the Cougars to road wins at Rutgers, Oregon and UCLA. Here are the key reasons why Luke Falk will be a top-10 quarterback in 2016.
One of the most accurate quarterbacks in college football
Falk’s 78.7 adjusted completion percentage ranks No. 1 among all returning FBS quarterbacks (447 completions + 42 drops) / (649 attempts – 14 throw aways – 3 spikes – 2 batted passes – 9 hit as thrown) = 78.7. Falk has demonstrated good accuracy to all parts of the field and on longer developing passes as well as quick short passes. On plays where the throw occurred within 2.5 seconds or less, Falk’s 72.6 percent completion ranks No. 9 among returning FBS quarterbacks.
On longer developing pass plays where the throw occurs at 2.6 seconds or more, Falk’s 63.7 completion percentage ranks No.2 among all returning FBS quarterbacks after only Mississippi’s Chad Kelly. On deep passes that were targeted 20+ yards downfield Falk completed 28 of 63 passes (with three drops) for 782 yards and five touchdowns, and his 49.2 percent deep passing accuracy ranks No.7 among returning FBS quarterbacks.
He performs well under pressure
No returning FBS quarterback was as cool under pressure as Luke Falk was last season. Falk completed 50 of 99 passes under pressure in 2015 with six touchdowns and zero interceptions. Falk is willing to stand in the pocket under pressure and take a hit to deliver a pass. Falk’s 69.1 accuracy percentage under pressure ranks No.1 among all returning FBS quarterbacks. He also had huge conference road wins at UCLA and Oregon (a team Washington State hadn’t beat in eight years) and performed well late in games by delivering key throws.
He has weapons
Falk has some nice weapons returning at wide receiver that should help him put up gaudy numbers once again. Gabe Marks patrols the right side in the Cougars’ offense and racked up 1,183 yards and 15 touchdowns last season as well as a +10.6 receiving grade which ranks No. 30 among returning FBS wide receivers. Falk also has the talented slot receiver River Cracraft operating over the middle of the field. In 2015 Cracraft had 613 yards and five touchdowns, and his 68.5 percent catch rate in the slot ranks him No. 21 among returning slot receivers. Both players should have very productive seasons in 2016 in the Cougars’ high-powered offense.
This will be the third-straight season that Falk will start games in Coach Leach’s offense so he should have an excellent grasp of the system and could exceed his 2015 production. Falk’s accuracy, poise under pressure, big-game performance, and a pass-happy offense will see him as one of the top-10 quarterbacks in FBS in 2016. If Luke Falk and the Cougars can build on their successful 2015 campaign they could have the potential to win the Pac-12 North and play in the Pac-12 title game.