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Final thoughts from the USC game

If you're like me, basically all you've got after this game are thoughts of Connor Halliday and what he meant to WSU, how fun he was to watch and listen to this season, and how unfair it felt watching as a guy who's fought through some brutal injuries, and avoided them for two seasons as the hits piled up, had his collegiate career almost certainly end with just a few games left and with plenty still left to accomplish.

More on all that after the jump.

-- Nothing has been confirmed regarding Halliday's injury, other than that he had surgery after getting carted off the field. But we all know what we saw and barring a miracle Halliday's time in a WSU uniform is over. If he's done he'll finish his career with 11,304 passing yards and 90 passing touchdowns.

It's not likely he would have passed Matt Barkley's 116 career touchdowns to become the Pac-12's all-time leader if that play had never happened, but he probably would have finished No. 2. He easily could have put up another 1,023 passing yard to overtake Barkley as the No. 2 all-time Pac-12 passing yards leader (OSU's Sean Mannion took over the No. 1 spot tonight), but instead he'll finish No. 4.

He'll also finish his WSU career as a 28-game starter who made the Cougars a national story each week his senior year, as an immensely candid athlete and someone who provided some fire to a program that needed it.

This season he tamed that fire, to a point, and moments like his build up of River Cracraft after a dropped punt against Rutgers showed how far he'd come as a leader as well as a quarterback.

Halliday deserved a better ending to his WSU career. Hopefully it's not the end of his days playing football.

-- With Halliday out, redshirt freshman former walk-on Luke Falk got his first action and he looked really good, in my opinion. His numbers (38-57 370 yards 2 touchdowns and an interception) were good and would have been very good if not for the drops disease that afflicted WSU's receivers. And it really can't be emphasized enough that he was doing this in rain and fog as thick as smoke.

Also, Falk's presence in the pocket was impressive and his ability to scramble for a first down adds a dimension to WSU's offense. It will be interesting to see what Falk can do over these final three games and the oncoming quarterback competition in the spring should produce a passer that can succeed in the Pac-12.

-- At this point you've got to think that the special teams errors are more mental than anything schematic, or even the result of missed tackles. Six returns for scores must be doing a number on the confidence of the coverage units, creating a loop of poor confidence leading to poor performance and vice versa.

-- Has anyone ever been "thrown into the fire" like cornerback Kevin Griffin? After presumably redshirting all season he's cut his teeth against Arizona and USC, and both offenses tested him as much as possible. I think he'll be a fine player but guys like Nelson Agholor and Juju Smith are understandably too much for him right now. It's fair to wonder: If an older guy like Tracy Clark really isn't a better option than saving Griffin's redshirt after the season is half over then why did Clark start at Rutgers?

Jacob Thorpe
Jacob Thorpe joined The Spokesman-Review in 2013. He currently is a reporter for the Sports Desk covering Washington State University athletics.

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