PULLMAN – Compared to the offensive line, NCAA passing leader Luke Falk is but a football distributor. Washington State’s receivers are just deliverymen, its running backs merely glorified porters.
The offensive line is the engine that makes the Air Raid offense go. At least, it is according to one of its architects.
“I think it’s the most important position,” said WSU coach Mike Leach during his weekly press conference. “I always have. And I think people who lose sight of that, it’s damaging to them. It’s the most important position on offense, certainly.”
That the Cougars put up 38 points last weekend on an Arizona State defense that is undoubtedly good, if not the dream-destroyer the Sun Devils have trotted out in recent years, is a testament to the WSU offensive line.
And an effort up front that would be commendable in an average week is doubly so considering WSU’s best offensive lineman – Spokane son Joe Dahl – missed the game for undisclosed reasons.
If WSU continues to be without its best player at the most critical position on the most important offensive unit – the left tackle blocks pass-rushers who attack from behind a right-handed quarterback like Falk – Leach’s most important unit will be severely handicapped in its remaining games.
But not critically so. ASU boasted the No. 1 pass-rushing defense in the Pac-12 coming into Saturday’s game, with three more sacks than any other conference team. After some early struggles, WSU’s makeshift wall kept the Sun Devils at bay well enough it’s uncertain how much difference Dahl would have made if at all.
Left tackle Gunnar Eklund had started at the position before moving to left guard, and the adjustment from right guard to left guard was not so big for Eduardo Middleton.
But like many chains, the offensive line is only as good as the weakest point, putting all eyes on former backup right guard Jacob Seydel in his first game action. So when Seydel ably performed his duties in the frontline phalanx, the entire offense avoided a potential major step backward.
“Jake played great. For the first time playing right guard in a game ever – he’s only played right tackle – I thought he did really good, actually. Shout out to Jake Seydel, he played pretty good.”
Falk honored again
Quarterback Luke Falk was named the Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week on Monday, the third time he’s been given the honor this season and the fourth time in his career, which includes 12 starts.
The redshirt sophomore completed 36 of 55 passes for 497 yards and five touchdowns. The passing yardage was the third-most by a Pac-12 quarterback this season, trailing two of his own performances. He leads the FBS in passing yards (3,736) and is tied for second in passing touchdowns (33).
Falk’s four Pac-12 Player of the Week awards are the most by a WSU player since the weekly honor was created in 1991.
Cougs excited to return home
The WSU football team has more than 40 players who went to school in the state of California, most of whom still have friends and family within easy traveling distance of Los Angeles. The Cougars have not played in Southern California since a 2013 game at USC, so receiver Dom Williams, who is from Pomona, says there has been a run on tickets with the chance for so many players to play near home.
“Everybody’s excited to play in their hometown,” Williams said. “That’s all you hear about, ‘I can’t wait to get back to Cali.’ But our biggest thing is we’ve still got to stay focused and improve every week, but it’s a lot of hype going back to California right now.”
Colorado kick time set
WSU’s game on Nov. 21 against Colorado will kick off at 7:45 p.m. in Martin Stadium and will be televised on ESPN2.
The Cougars will play five consecutive games on national television to conclude the 2015 regular season, despite having only had one of their first seven games broadcast to a national audience.
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