Monday, August 31, 2009

SPOTLIGHT: Washington QB Jake Locker

If the Huskies have any chance of upsetting LSU in Seattle this weekend, that hope rests on the shoulders of their junior QB - Jake Locker.  After missing most of last season with an injured hand, Locker is healthy and back in charge of the Washington offense. 

U-Dub fans are high on Locker (in more ways than one, I must say).  I've done a fair amount of searching and reading and I cannot find many folks (media or fans) who have anything but adulation for the 6'3, 230lb signal caller.  So how good is he?  Well, I'll let you judge for yourself.  Let's take a look at his chronology so far.


Locker was a four-year starter at 3A Ferndale High in Washington - CB as a freshman, QB the last three years.  In his senior year, he led his team to a 14-0 season and a State Championship and a #12 National Ranking in MaxPrep's 2005 final poll.  His stats are pretty good, nothing earth shattering.  It's tough to legitimately compare high school kids on stats alone, but since comparisons have been made between Locker and Tebow, here are Tebow's stats (senior year) for comparison.  Bottom line - Locker didn't throw an exceptional amount or exceptionally well, ran a lot (95.6 ypg in his senior year), and was the #4 Dual Threat QB in the 2005/6 recruiting class (Rivals).  Here's a HS vid if you want a look.

Jake Locker - Ferndale, W @ Rivals Video

FRESHMAN YEARS (2006, 2007)

Locker redshirted in 2006, working as the Service Team (scout team) QB.  In 2007, Locker started all but one game (California).  His signature game during the season came against Arizona, where he rushed for 157 yards, 2 TDs and completed 17/30 for 336 yards, 2 TDs and 2 ints.  Cumulatively, Locker had a modest year throwing and a strong year running - similar to his high school playing style. 

His stats for 2007 were:  Passing - 155/328, 2062yds, 14 TDs, 15 ints; Rushing - 172 carries, 986 yds, 13TDs.  Locker was the second leading rusher behind Louis Rankin, who gained 1294 yards.

Locker was showered with Freshman accolades in 2007, including Pac-10 Freshman of the Year.

Here's a video of a 95 or so yarder against Arizona.

And, if you have much more time, here are his 2007 highlights (5:56 seconds - get a drink!)


Locker started the first four games of 2008 but sustained a broken thumb trying to throw a block in the Stanford game.  His 2008 stats over 4 games were:  Passing - 50/93, 512 yds, 1 TD, 0 ints;  Rushing - 56 carries, 180 yards, 3 TDs.  Locker actually grossed 275 yards rushing, but was sacked for 95 yards in just a little over three games.


Locker is clearly a very good running QB. But he's not a great passer. He's not horrid. And we won't know how much he's improved until Saturday night. But I think passing is where Tebow and Locker show the most contrast. For all of Tim Tebow's prowess as a powerful runner, he's a very accurate and efficient passer as well. Locker - not so much. At least, not in the past.

Locker can hurt LSU with his feet. He's fast and confident with the ball in has hands, has great vision and can cut very well. Washington's new offensive scheme is supposedly going to force Locker to stand tall in the pocket more this year. We'll see. From his videos, his instinct will be to trust his wheels and bolt at the first sign of pressure.

The key to containing Locker will be for the defensive ends to pressure him, the defensive tackles to slow him by clogging the middle, and the second level to get him on the turf as soon as possible. Locker won't be shy about getting hit. But he'll likely be predictable. And, while he's not a deep ball threat, if he's successful running, he'll be able to turn short passes into to big gains by enticing the secondary to cheat up towards the box in support of the run defense.

End of the day, I think Locker will have a great first quarter running, maybe a great first half. But I think LSU's defense will adjust very quickly and shut him down. And that will lead to taking advantage of Locker's biggest potential liability - his accuracy.

Locker threw more picks than TDs and was sub-50% in his freshman year. THAT DOES NOT mean he won't have progressed a great deal since then. We don't know. However, I'd much rather see Locker trying to throw on 3rd and 7 than feeling free to scramble on 2nd and 2. So, if LSU can force long third down situations, I think Locker will be most vulnerable and the Tiger defense will get a chance to pick a couple off.

One thing we do know for sure is that Washington does not have the kind of offensive line that will provide Locker with a safe 5 second pocket inside which to check down. There are a couple of strong starters on the line, but overall the squad is young, inexperienced and shallow in replacements. By the second half, LSU will have worn them out and Locker will be attempting to dodge white jerseys on a regular basis.


Jake Locker is a very good college QB and he's got a chance to be a great QB if he has an improved junior season throwing the football. At the end of the football game, I think his stats won't show how good he probably is. Mostly, because I think our defense is going to be all over him in the second half.

Sorta like this, only hopefully not quite so late...

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