Locker carrying Washington's offense Print
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Wednesday, 10 September 2008 09:48
NCAAF Headline News

 SEATTLE (AP) -No one doubted Jake Locker would need to be highly involved in Washington's offense early in the season with so many young and inexperienced teammates at key skill positions.
But this much?
Through two games, the Huskies' offense has been Locker and very little else. The ratio is even more lopsided than it was last year, when the Huskies' dual-threat quarterback accounted for 59 percent of Washington's total offensive yards, running and passing.
So far this year it's more than 73 percent. Of Washington's 579 offensive yards, 426 have come from Locker. If the Huskies want Locker to survive the season, the reliance on the sophomore needs to be reduced.
``Until we really start running the football like we're capable of doing, I think that there still is a little bit (too much),'' Washington offensive coordinator Tim Lappano said of using Locker.
Finding someone to take the heat off Locker will be critical this week with the aggressive, attacking defense of No. 3 Oklahoma coming to Husky Stadium.
Last year, when Lappano felt Locker was getting too worn down either on the run or passing, he could turn to running back Louis Rankin behind an experienced offensive line. Rankin became the Huskies' first 1,000-yard rusher in a decade, finishing with 1,294 yards in his senior season.
This season, Locker has 119 yards rushing. Freshman Chris Polk, who dislocated his left shoulder in last Saturday's loss to No. 18 BYU, is next with 33.
Now Locker faces an Oklahoma defense that has allowed a total of 103 yards on the ground against Chattanooga and Cincinnati and has eight sacks in those two games.
``I don't know who to compare him to other than Jake Locker,'' Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said. ``He's a very talented young guy for sure.''
Much of the discussion about Locker in the last few days has surrounded the 15-yard penalty he received for excessive celebration after scoring with 2 seconds left against BYU to pull Washington within 28-27. The penalty was enforced on the point after attempt, which was blocked, preserving the Cougars' victory.
But lost in the furor around the penalty was the Huskies' offense expanding its play-calling far behind the vanilla game plan in its 44-10 loss to Oregon in the season opener. Lappano said this week that the play calling expanded by about 25 percent against the Cougars and a few more wrinkles would be added against the Sooners.
no said there was only one designed run play for Locker in the game plan against BYU. He ended up running 18 times.
``I called two draws to him last week. Everything else was a scramble or a keep on an option,'' Lappano said. ``I think it's probably too many but he's got to do what he's got to do.''
What would help the Huskies' ground game is Locker's accuracy throwing the ball, particularly deep passes. Twice against BYU, Locker overthrew wide open receivers for potential touchdowns, although he did connect with freshman Jermaine Kearse on a 48-yard scoring pass. Locker also missed a few mid-range passes, zipping throws over the head of receivers 15 to 20 yards downfield. Locker is 29-for-60 passing through two games.
Still, Locker was proud of how his teammates responded on their final drive - a 17-play, 76-yard march - after he missed a wide open D'Andre Goodwin for a possible touchdown on the first play.
``I overthrew D'Andre and we could have scored a touchdown. It would have been real easy to kind of hang up our hats after that and be like, 'Gosh, we missed it, that was our shot.' But we kept fighting,'' Locker said. ``There were a couple of other plays, we had a drop and I missed a couple of throws, and a lot of times it easily could have been over at that point, but we overcame those.
ickly. I thought the guys responded really well, stepped up and made plays.''
He'll need many more of those moments if the Huskies want to hang with the Sooners on Saturday.
``Obviously (the BYU) game was tough, it hurt, but we've got to put it behind us and focus on a really good Oklahoma team and be as prepared as possible,'' Locker said.
 

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