Here are three takeaways from Washington State's spring game on Saturday.
One of the most prolific quarterback-wide receiver tandems in the country last year is back for an encore. And the end result is going to be absolutely devastating for opposing defensive backs. The duo picked up right where they left off last season – where they teamed up for 14 of Marks’ 15 receiving touchdowns in 2015. On Saturday, Marks finished with 11 receptions for 96 yards and a pair of touchdown catches. Falk ended his day by completing 23 of 28 passes for 170 yards. If the spring is any indication of what’s to come, expect a heaping dose of Falk-to-Marks week after week. (Noteworthy, as well, that defensive back Marcellus Pippins had some great battles with Marks).
2. Can we really expect this kind of defensive pressure?
One of the reasons the Cougars turned things around so dramatically in 2015 was much-improved defensive play. They forced turnovers (going from eight in 2014 to 24 last season) and had more sacks (29 vs. 33) than the previous season. On Saturday, Nick Begg and Ngalu Tapa each tallied three sacks. As a whole, the defense recorded 12. Let’s not get too hopeful for 12-sack games this fall. Spring games are obviously different. It will be interesting to see what a second season in Alex Grinch’s defense does for the group. It’s also been reported that Grinch has been experimenting with moving different guys around at all three levels during the spring. Don’t be so sure the lineup we saw on Saturday will be the norm in the fall. But for a program known for its offense, it’s nice to see the defense continuing to evolve.
3. The Cougars have … wait for it … running back depth
The postgame buzz was all about running back James Williams, who carried six times for 25 yards and a score to go with six catches for 42 yards. The redshirt freshman, who missed the bulk of his senior season at Burbank High with a torn ACL, slowly gained traction last season after shining in WSU’s Thursday Night Football scrimmages. Saturday he showed off the speed and athleticism that the coaching staff has been buzzing about for a year. An already crowded backfield, which includes Gerard Wicks (13 carries, 43 yards, one touchdown Saturday), Jamal Morrow (7-30) and Keith Harrington (who didn’t participate in spring because of injury) means the Cougars have plenty of options behind their quarterback. That should allow for some offensive flexibility and creativity moving forward.