Suit up Mr. Keith Price. This is why you came to Washington. Your time is now.
Well, for at least a week.
After two weeks of a stagnant, quite pathetic, Husky offense, Sarkisian has drawn the line. Jake Locker is sitting.
Wait, what? Locker benched? Well, not quite.
The tipping point is because of the rib injuries that Locker has sustained over the course of the last month. It’s been revealed that what started off a ‘bruise’ or ‘hairline fracture’ of the ribs suffered against Oregon State, has progressed into full on cracked ribs after getting rocked by the Stanford Cardinal.
Insult to injury after he was stagnated against Arizona State four weeks ago with a thigh bruise.
The evidence of these injuries has been brutally apparent. It’s pretty simple really. In Washington’s three victories, Jake Locker has played out of his mind. I’m talking about five touchdown performances, or, in the case of USC, a 100 yard rushing performance with the biggest fourth down conversion of his life in the passing game to go along with it. In U-Dub’s three Conference losses, it’s featured a Jake Locker stuck in the pocket, with his mobility slowed down to injury, with an offensive line that does not have the capability to protect him.
The bottom line is is that if Locker cannot get out of the pocket to simply just protect his life and to make things happen in the passing game, then just Chris Polk handling the rock in the ground game won’t be enough to help Washington move the ball. Locker is a capable pocket passer, but Washington’s offensive line is not a capable unit of helping Locker be a pocket passer. Not against Arizona, who features the two top pass rushing defensive ends in the Conference. Not against the Physical front of Stanford. Not against the stout front seven of Arizona State. It’s sickening to see Locker get crushed in the pocket because the only way he can get the football out of his hands are screens and three step drops.
Now the Dawgs head down to Eugene, Oregon to face the number one team in the nation. The Ducks have a fast defense whose front thrives on creativity to get to the passer and to create havoc for their ball hawking secondary. And Washington’s front line is not mature enough for that yet. Not in 2010. And Sarkisian’s answer for it was the absolute right call. Keith Price is the right call for the University of Washington.
The duel threat three star prospect who spurned Utah and Arizona State for Washington will give Washington a valuable aspect of their offense back. Mobility, and a healthy body.
Not as if he will make the world of difference UW will need to actually pull an upset. While I will be sitting down to watch the game with the hope and optimism that we could win(because that is my job as a fan), the bottom line is that Washington will very likely be coming home to face UCLA at 3-6, and will be coming home in ugly fashion.
You see, this move is brilliant because it sets Washington up very beautifully for the home stretch, and the three games that will truly define the season for UW. And these are games in which we need Jake Locker.
Before the season, I had highlighted six games that I specifically thought were the most likely games that UW could win to gain bowl eligibility. And, because of how the schedule drew out, two of those games were the first two games, and, the final three against UCLA, Cal and Washington State.
The fact that the University of Washington will probably be 3-6 isn’t actually much of a surprise to me. The only surprise is that we have wins over Oregon State and USC instead of BYU and Arizona State. But it all evens itself out, I guess.
Obviously, Sarkisian isn’t packing it in for the Oregon game. But he knows better than to leave his quarterback out to dry when there is still something to fight for. And it’s not like Keith Price isn’t capable. He graduated early to come to Washington for spring practice in 2009, he’s been in the offense for well over a year now. And, he threw a go ahead touchdown against USC this year when Locker went out for a play after suffering an injury on a goal line run. He provides an interesting set of strengths for UW, especially when it comes to arm strength. You can call him sort of an Isaiah Stanback clone. He can get the ball down the field, but UW fans might be pulling their hair out a little bit on some intermediate throws he will miss. At least that is the impression I got out of him from the spring practices I was able to digest.
But in the long haul, the hope is that when Washington hosts UCLA on a Thursday night Senior day, that he’ll have a healthy, and mobile, Jake Locker leading the offense. If Washington is going to win out, they’re going to need Locker. They did it last year, smashing Washington State and Cal in back to back weeks, with Locker firing on all cylinders. Now it’s UCLA, Cal and Washington State. Those are the winnable games for Washington, and that will be the time for Washington to make a run for a bowl.
So rest up Locker. Eat your wheaties and drink your milk. We’re going to need you.