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Who is Luke Falk? Logan native putting up Ty Detmer Heisman-like numbers at WSU

SHARE Who is Luke Falk? Logan native putting up Ty Detmer Heisman-like numbers at WSU

There's a Utah native guiding a Cougar passing attack who leads the nation through the air and is captained by a BYU graduate.

Unfortunately for the school in Provo, it's a Washington State quarterback, not a BYU signal-caller. Former Logan High quarterback Luke Falk is becoming a household name in the college football world.

Under head coach Mike Leach, Falk, the starting quarterback for Washington State, has led the Cougars to a resurgent 7-3 record thus far in 2015, including a 31-27 victory over then-No. 18 UCLA Saturday at the Rose Bowl. That win put Washington State back in the polls for the first time in nine years, at No. 24 in The Associated Press poll and 23rd in the Amway Coaches poll.

With just 13 career college starts under his belt, the redshirt sophomore is setting his sights on not only Washington State records, but on putting his name among the best to play the NCAA game as well. There's even some buzz about Falk being a legit Heisman Trophy candidate, and if you look at his stats and compare them to the Beehive State's lone Heisman winner, the numbers bear a striking resemblance.

Here’s a look at some of the most entertaining moments and big numbers of Falk’s already impressive college career:

Among the nation’s best in several categories

Falk is currently leading the nation in passing yards (4,067), completions (391) and attempts (556). He also comes in second nationally in touchdown passes (35) and completion percentage (70.3) and is third in points responsible for (228), as well as third in total offense (395.7 yards per game).

Led game-winning drive vs. No. 18 UCLA

Last week, Falk matched up against one of the nation's best young passers in UCLA's Josh Rosen. When Rosen ran for a 37-yard touchdown with 1:09 remaining to give the Bruins a three-point lead, it appeared the Pasadena quarterback would have the upper hand. But Falk led a seven-play, 75-yard drive to take the lead back with three seconds left when he hit Gabe Marks for a 21-yard touchdown pass to give Washington State the 31-27 victory. This all came after Falk had to pass concussion protocol just to return to the game after being knocked out in the first half. He finished the game completing 38-of-53 passes for 331 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.

Five fourth-quarter comebacks to his name

Speaking of comebacks, Falk is becoming a master of rallying the Cougars to victory. In 13 starts, he has led five fourth-quarter comebacks, including four this season. Three this year have come on the road at Rutgers, Oregon and UCLA, and his first win as a starter came on the road at Oregon State last season.

Already a Cougar touchdown record-holder

When Falk hit Marks for the game-winner against the Bruins, it was his 35th touchdown pass of the season. That set the Washington State record for touchdown passes in a single season, passing Ryan Leaf and Connor Halliday, who shared the previous record of 34. He has two regular-season games (vs. Colorado and at Washington) and a bowl game to improve on that number.

Single-season marks in sight

In addition to breaking the school record for touchdown passes in a single season, Falk is closing in on several single-season school records:

Pass attempts: 556 in 2015 (record is 714 by Halliday, 2013)

Pass completions: 391 (449, Halliday, 2013)

Passing yards: 4,067 (4,597, Halliday, 2013)

Completion percentage: 70.3 (67.3, Halliday, 2014)

300-yard passing games: 9 (9, Leaf, 1997 and Halliday, 2013)

Total offense: 3,957 (4,420, Halliday, 2013)

Touchdowns responsible for: 38 (40, Leaf, 1997)

First-start fire

In his first career start, last season against Oregon State, Falk threw for five touchdowns and no interceptions as the Cougars won 39-32 on the road. Falk completed 44-of-61 passes for 471 yards in his first game replacing the injured Halliday.

Freshman record-setter at Washington State

Falk basically rewrote the Cougar freshman passing marks while playing in five games last season. In 2014, he set WSU freshman marks in pass attempts (243), pass completions (156), passing yards (1,859), completion percentage (64.2) and touchdown passes (13).

Doing up-downs after an interception on a career day

Even during one of his best games this season, Falk was taught a lesson by Leach, a BYU graduate. In the Cougars' 52-31 win over Oregon State, Falk threw six first-half touchdowns to tie the school record for single-game TD passes. But in the fourth quarter, after a drive that featured two drops, two holding penalties and an interception from Falk, Leach made four players, including Falk, do 15 up-downs on the sidelines, according to The Seattle Times.

He walked on at Washington State

Falk's journey from Logan to Pullman, Washington, took some unconventional turns. At one point, Florida State offered a scholarship to the Utah native, Falk told ESPN, but when he transferred to Oaks Christian High in Southern California for his junior year and played in only two games, that offer went off the table.

Falk returned to Logan for his senior season and threw for 3,618 yards and 36 touchdowns, setting Utah prep single-season records for pass attempts (562) and completions (330). He earned scholarship offers from Cornell, Idaho and Wyoming, but coaching changes at Cornell and Idaho changed those plans, according to ESPN.

Leach, however, learned about Falk and knew he ran a similar offensive system at Logan to Leach's Air Raid attack and offered Falk the chance to walk on at Washington State. The rest is history.

He's the latest protege under Leach

Leach has become known in the college football realm for his yard-producing passing attacks, extending from his time as offensive coordinator as places like Kentucky and Oklahoma to his head coaching days at Texas Tech and now Washington State. During that time, Leach has coached college quarterbacks like Tim Couch, Josh Heupel, Kliff Kingsbury, Graham Harrell, B.J. Symons and Halliday. Falk is the latest signal-caller to put up impressive numbers under Leach.

Flinging the pigskin

Falk already finds himself in the NCAA record book after throwing 74 passes in a game last season in a loss to Arizona State, the 15th-most pass attempts in a game in FBS history. He tied that mark this year when he completed 50-of-74 passes for 505 yards and five touchdowns in a 45-38 double overtime win over Oregon.

Already a 600-yard passing game

In the 2014 loss to the Sun Devils, Falk also threw for 601 yards, tied for the 15th-best single-game passing performance in NCAA FBS history. That already stacks up favorably against quarterbacks with Utah ties. It surpasses the best single-game passing effort from BYU Heisman Trophy winner Ty Detmer (599 yards vs. San Diego State in 1991). BYU and Utah have both had quarterbacks throw for more than 600 yards in a single game: the Cougars' John Walsh for 619 vs. Utah State in 1993 and the Utes' Scott Mitchell for 631 against Air Force in 1988.

Falk outpacing Detmer

It may sound blasphemous, but Falk is on pace to outdo the numbers put up by Detmer in his career at BYU. Most of Falk's sophomore-year numbers are already better than Detmer's, and he is projecting to put up stronger numbers than Detmer did in 1990 when he won the Heisman Trophy as a junior.

Here's a quick comparison of their numbers.

Falk in 2015 (three games remaining): 391-of-556 passing, 70.3 completion percentage, 4,067 passing yards, 35 touchdowns, eight interceptions

Detmer in 1989 (sophomore year): 265-of-412, 64.3 percent, 4,560 yards, 32 touchdowns, 15 interceptions

Detmer in 1990 (junior, Heisman-winning year): 361-of-562, 64.2 percent, 5,188 yards, 41 touchdowns, 28 interceptions

By using Falk's averages through 10 games this season, here's what his final 2015 numbers would project as: 508-of-723, 70.3 percent, 5,287 yards, 45 touchdowns, 10 interceptions.

It should be noted that Detmer's numbers do not include his bowl-game statistics, which were not counted as a part of his regular-season numbers and would give Falk one extra game on his season total over Detmer. The NCAA has since allowed bowl-game stats to count toward a player's overall season numbers, giving Falk a bit of an edge there.

One area where Falk is unlikely to catch Detmer is yards passing per game. Falk is averaging 406.7 yards per contest in 2015, while Detmer averaged 380 per game as a sophomore and it jumped to 432.3 ypg in 1990, the fourth-best mark in NCAA history.

Still, after the latest Washington State win, the hashtag #Falk4Heisman gained greater traction on Twitter. Leach also stumped for his quarterback.

“Now (the Heisman) is just the bi-product of trying to speculate who’s the best player of the national championship team. … But failure to do that, then I think you ought to go back to the original definition which is who’s made the greatest contribution to his individual team,” Leach said in his press conference Monday, according to NBC Sports. “If that’s the case then virtually everyone needs to vote for Luke Falk. And anybody that doesn’t needs to re-examine why their voting for the Heisman to begin with.”

He's on pace to become one of the NCAA’s best passers ever

If Falk chooses to stay in school the next two years and can stay relatively healthy, as well as put up similar numbers to what he is currently producing, he will find himself near the top of several passing categories in the NCAA record books.

Using his projected 2015 totals, then doubling them to account for his junior and senior years, while also adding in his freshman numbers, here's where Falk's career would project in several statistical categories.

NCAA passing leadersCreate column chartsPass completions: 1,680

(Top 5, FBS history: 1. Case Keenum, Houston, 1,546; 2. Graham Harrell, Texas Tech, 1,403; T3. Timmy Chang, Hawaii and Landry Jones, Oklahoma, 1,388; 5. Kliff Kingsbury, Texas Tech, 1,231)

Pass attempts: 2,412

(Top 5, FBS history: 1. Chang, 2,436; 2. Keenum, 2,229; 3. Jones, 2,183; 4. Harrell, 2,011; 5. Kingsbury, 1,883)

Passing yards: 17,720

(Top 5, FBS history: 1. Keenum, 19,217; 2. Chang, 17,072; 3. Jones, 16,646; 4. Harrell, 15,793; 5. Ty Detmer, BYU, 15,031)

Completion percentage: 69.7

(Top 5, FBS history: 1. Colt Brennan, Hawaii, 70.4; 2. Colt McCoy, Texas, 70.3; 3. Kellen Moore, Boise State, 69.8; 4. Harrell, 69.8; 5. Brandon Weeden, Oklahoma State, 69.5)

Touchdown passes: 148

(Top 5, FBS history: 1. Keenum, 155; 2. Moore, 142; 3. Harrell, 134; T4. Brennan and Rakeem Cato, Marshall, 131)

Total offense: 17,221

(Top 5, FBS history: 1. Keenum, 20,114; 2. Chang, 16,910; 3. Jones, 16,271; 4. Dan Lefevour, Central Michigan, 15,853; 5. Harrell, 15,611)

Email: bjudd@deseretdigital.com; Twitter: @brandonljudd