Washington Roundtable

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via www.webcollective.coop

TwistNHook: When do you think Coach Tedford will take Jahvid Best out of this one?  3rd quarter?  4 quarter?  Never, because Best got injured in the 3rd game of the season and Cal is in 6th place in the Pac10.  That last sentence was to atone to the Woofing Gods for the first 3.

 

Avinash:  This game is in December. December cold in Seattle. Definitely a seven-fourteen point swing UW's way. Hopefully we're still 15-20 points better than them.

That being said, I'm not looking forward to this one unless we've clinched something.

TwistNHook:  Two road games to end the season is always a daunting task no matter how weak the teams may be.  Certainly, in 2007, many fans probably thought those 2 road games against Stanford and UW would be so easy.  And we saw what happened there. 

Here's the thing about Locker.  For all the hype, we still don't really know if he's going to be able to pass.  Here are his career numbers:

 

RUSHING G Att Yds TD Lg Avg/C Avg/G
2007................ 12 172 986 13 47 5.7 82.2
2008................ 4 56 180 3 20 3.2 45.0
TOTAL............... 16 228 1166 16 47 5.1 72.9


PASSING G Att- Cmp- Int Yds TD Lg Pct Avg/P Avg/G Effic
2007................ 12 328- 155- 15 2062 14 98 47.3 6.3 171.8 105.0
2008................ 4 50- 93- 0 512 1 48 53.8 5.5 128.0 103.6

TOTAL............... 16 205- 421- 15 2574 15 98 48.7 6.1 160.9 104.7


Those are some fairly poor passing numbers there.  Bad completion percentages.  Low efficiency.  And even his running stats were down in 2008, when you look at average. 

I don't care what you color me, as long as you color me unimpressed.  And missing most of 2008 certainly didn't help with his development.

HydroTech:  Yes, Locker's average yard per attempt and completion percentage are horrible.  I don't think it's all him.  I think he hasn't had tons of talent around him.  You gotta wonder if he's even got a chance at the NFL with such horrible stats.  Had he gone to a better team with more talent around him, he might be putting up decent numbers which certainly can help sway a scout's opinion of him in his favor.

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via i2.cdn.turner.com

TwistNHook:  Sarkasian has been reworking Locker's mechanics.  Maybe this is the year he makes the jump:

Fans watching practices might have noticed Locker's much-discussed accuracy issues -- he has completed less than 50 percent of his throws -- seem, well, less of an issue. Sarkisian said Locker has been completing passes at about a "65 to 67 percent" clip in scrimmages.

Sarkisian and quarterbacks coach Doug Nussmeier have worked on Locker's footwork and mechanics and have made his delivery smoother -- Sarkisian calls it "leaning it out." They focused on developing consistency in his setup, release point and his follow-through.

Sarkisian also forced Locker, who rushed for 986 yards in 2007, to stay in the pocket during spring practices instead of running with the football. But Sarkisian isn't stupid. He's fully aware he's got one of the best athletes in the Pac-10 playing quarterback for him.

 

"There's going to be some give and take," Sarkisian said. "I can't just say, 'We're running a pro-style offense,' and not take advantage of what this guy can do. I mean, he's a 4.4 [40-yard dash] guy at 230 pounds."

What Locker also has is a surprisingly strong receiving corps, one that was too young to assert itself last season but has played at a high level since spring practices.

"Jake's throwing a lot better," said D'Andre Goodwin, who caught 60 passes in 2008. "He's being coached up on small details. We're all getting a lot more repetition with things. We're all feeling comfortable with each other. He knows how each of his receivers run routes."

 

Avinash:  Although the Huskies are probably a long way away, they will be searching for upsets all season long. And a competent Locker (who we've somehow avoided two years in a row) scares the HELL out of me. Like a college Vince Young and a pre-dog torturing Michael Vick, he can do too many things with the ball and break what should be a conventional victory into a chaotic mess.

TwistNHook:  UW is going to get absolutely crushed by LSU.  And then all those SEC fans are going to go crazzy about how unbelievably bad Pac10 football is.  Check out this quote:

"When LSU goes outside the SEC, it’s usually to play Southern Miss or someone like that," said Ricky Preau, biological science junior. "It should be exciting to go out there and see how the Pacific-10 does football."


If the 2009 UW team is "how the Pac10 does football" our combined reputation is so screwed.  This is bad, people.  Bad!





If UW does want to beat LSU, they are going to need improved D play.  The man to coordnate all that is Nick Holt, the new D coordinator.

A quote about how high octane this guy is showcases at least one problem UW had last year:

"No one ever falls asleep in meetings anymore," said defensive tackle Cameron Elisara. "We've never had that problem this year because he's always doing something to keep you awake. He has a lot of energy."

Yknow its bad when people were apparently falling asleep in meetings.  Ai!  New head coach Steve Sarkisian recruited Holt out of USC where he was coaching alongside him.  Even though Holt is, in theory, below Sarkisian in the coaching hierarchy, he is, in many ways his equal:

Sarkisian's entire coaching and playing history is on offense and he plans to call the plays for the Huskies. That meant he needed a dependable hand to guide the defense, especially one that has allowed school records in yards per game and points allowed each of the past two seasons.

"Obviously my background is as an offensive football coach and I've wanted to keep my hand in the offense, and I wanted someone on defense that I could trust and believe in and I knew could take care of that side of the ball," Sarkisian said.

 

So, basically, Sarkisian is leaving the D alone for Holt to manage.  Could be a difficult task.  Even Holt admitted that the D was terrible last year.  Tough to disagree on that count.  We'll see if this Defensive Head Coach can get UDub back on the right path. 

Yellow Fever:  It always seems to me like there's no way to cover up for bad personnel on D.  You can scheme all you want to on offense in college and have funky systems like the triple option or spread option or pistol or whatever, but if your guys on defense suck, no amount of creative scheming can fix that.  So I'd expect the turnaround on offense to happen much more quickly at UW than whatever turnaround might happen on defense.

Ragnarok:  Well, there are some defensive schemes you can implement to cover up a lack of athleticism on defense.  If your whole defense is slow or undersized, there's not much you can do, but you can cover for a couple of solid tacklers with limited range.  Heck, Cal's switch to the 3-4 defense was motivated in part by the difficulty of finding 4 quality defensive linemen to start every year.

HydroTech: 

It always seems to me like there's no way to cover up for bad personnel on D.  You can scheme all you want to on offense in college and have funky systems like the triple option or spread option or pistol or whatever, but if your guys on defense suck, no amount of creative scheming can fix that.  So I'd expect the turnaround on offense to happen much more quickly at UW than whatever turnaround might happen on defense.


What's interesting, is that I had a conversation with a former Cal offensive lineman, and he seemed to disagree with the notion that defenses can't scheme around bad personnel for defense.  He said a lot of the weaker Pac-10 teams, not-surprisingly scheme to protect their weak players and put their strongest players by the ball.  On the other hand, he said that USC was perhaps the strongest overall defense that didn't scheme around bad players (then again, USC rarely has bad players), and didn't scheme around their good players.  He said that the entire USC defense was a great "team defense." 

Yellow Fever:  While I wouldn't want to disagree with someone's actually played the game, and I openly admit that I haven't, I've read a lot more about specific personnel being liabilities on defense in the running game or the passing game than I have about creating schemes to cover for those liabilities.  One of the most notable examples over the past year would have to be Roy Williams formerly of the Cowboys (the safety, not the wide receiver) who became such an outright liability in coverage that the team up and released him despite having made five Pro Bowls not too long ago.  There's only so much you can do to put him closer to the line of scrimmage and use him more as a linebacker if he's actually playing safety and needs to cover every now and then.  Sure, you can roll coverages and give help and all of that, but a smart offense will find that player and exploit him.

TwistNHook:  Keep an eye on RB Chris Polk.

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via seattletimes.nwsource.com

He was a huge prospect, who actually chose UW over USC.  He missed most of last year with an arm injury.  Hopes are high for his return.  He actually spoke about some of the problems on last year's squad:

Losing is never fun. Going 0-12 last season was tortuous for everyone. This wasn't what Polk signed up for and, he thought, if this is what big-time college football was about, maybe it wasn't right for him.

"Last year our team was very segregated, and I don't know why that happened," Polk said. "That's just how it was. We just didn't talk much. We weren't close. The offensive players wouldn't talk to the defensive players. We didn't believe in the schemes of our plays.

"If you don't believe in the plays, you're not going to give 100 percent effort. You sort of do your own thing. It got to the point where I just wasn't sure I wanted to play football anymore."

Avinash:  I'm intrigued as to what Sarkisian will bring to the program.  The offense is surprisingly tailored well for such an adaptation. Despite their, uh, lack of wins, the recievers should be a particular strong point of this Husky squad.  I'd really love to see if he'll try and adjust Locker to a pro-style offense. All practices are indicating that Jake has made drastic strides this offseason:

What Locker also has is a surprisingly strong receiving corps, one that was too young to assert itself last season but has played at a high level since spring practices.

"Jake's throwing a lot better," said D'Andre Goodwin, who caught 60 passes in 2008. "He's being coached up on small details. We're all getting a lot more repetition with things. We're all feeling comfortable with each other. He knows how each of his receivers run routes."


We'll see if Locker can control his happy feet. But I'd say UW's receivers are capable of making drastic strides in their development as Cal's.

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via www.seattlepi.com

Yellow Fever:  Despite whatever strides may have been made, I don't think I'm alone in thinking that the way to beat the Huskies remains making Locker throw.  Watching the highlight reel that Stewart Mandel included in his inaugural College Football Overtime article from this past Monday just underscores how dangerous Locker is as a runner - I cannot believe for one second that Terrelle Pryor is faster - so as long as the defensive line and linebackers are able to keep Locker in the pocket, I'm not worried about Washington's offense.

HydroTech:  I would agree with Fever's argument.  Locker's greatest asset to the team is his running ability more so than his passing ability.  Cal's defense might be better served not bringing blitz pressure on Locker so he isn't flushed from the pocket and instead stays in the pocket and passes against some of Cal's tricky zone coverages.

TwistNHook:  So, how do you guys see this one turning out?  Revenge for 2007?

HydroTech:  Washington gets a moral victory by only losing by 27.

Ragnarok:  Chances are, UW won't have anything but pride on the line, but at the same time, they ought to have a few victories under their belts, so they're really just playing for their seniors, and possibly as a spoiler.  If Cal has a couple losses and is heading to the Holiday/Sun/Las Vegas Bowls win or lose, I could see UW making a game of it.  On the other hand, if Cal *really* has something to play for, I think think they go out and spank the Huskies by a few touchdowns, just to make sure the pollsters are listening.

Avinash:  Nothing is more dangerous in college football than a team with everything to lose playing a team with nothing to lose. Oregon-Oregon State 2008, USC-UCLA 2006, Cal-Southern Miss 2004 all come to mind.

Thankfully, December is a long way away. We'll think about it more when the time comes.

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