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Tuesday, December 18, 2018  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883


Who has the edge? Grading Washington State’s Luke Falk and USC’s Sam Darnold

Southern Cal’s Sam Darnold, left, and Washington State’s Luke Falk face off Friday night at Martin Stadium. (File / AP)
Southern Cal’s Sam Darnold, left, and Washington State’s Luke Falk face off Friday night at Martin Stadium. (File / AP)

Washington State’s Luke Falk and USC’s Sam Darnold are a few of the country’s most prolific quarterbacks.

But who has the edge?

It’s a loaded question, so rather than answer, we’ll grade the quarterbacks on five traits: accuracy, arm strength, mobility, mechanics and intangibles.


The touchdown-to-interceptio ratio of both quarterbacks should give you a good enough hint who wins this one. Both have played four games, but Falk’s thrown 14 touchdowns and one interception, while Darnold’s tossed nine TDs and has seven picks.

Of Falk, USC coach Clay Helton said, “He’s a quick decision-maker and if it’s there, he pulls the trigger.”

Edge: Falk and it’s not close.

Arm strength

USC’s redshirt sophomore is scary good when he’s throwing on the run, but when Darnold can set his feet and let it rip, he’s especially tough – nearly impossible, even – to contain. Falk delivers a pretty ball, too, and his motion is more compact than Darnold’s, but the USC QB probably wins on the radar gun.

“(He) is as good as there is in the country,” Cougars defensive coordinator Alex Grinch said. “There’s guys that get the hype and there’s guys that live up to the hype.”

Edge: Darnold by a small margin.


Darnold’s ability to improvise when the pocket collapses is second to none. That’s made him not just one of the most entertaining QBs out there, but also one of the most effective. Sorry Luke, this is an easy one.

“I didn’t know he could move as well as he does,” WSU outside linebackers coach Roy Manning said. “He’s really good at extending plays. … He keeps his eyes down the field the whole time. you see it all over the film, he never gives up on a play.”

Edge: Darnold in a landslide.


Falk’s throwing motion is fast and fluid – traits you’d want from any quarterback, but essentials for someone running the Air Raid offense. Falk keeps a strong base when he’s throwing and possesses great footwork. Darnold has all of that, too, but Falk’s had a few more years to refine his game, and it shows.

Edge: Falk, but by just a hair.


The guy in Los Angeles has more intangibles than a second-year starter should, but the one in Pullman has simply been working at his craft longer. Falk’s preparation and visualization are probably the best in the conference and I’m not sure you’d want anyone else running your offense in the last minute of a close football game.

Edge: Falk, but again, it’s pretty close.

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