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CGB Pre-Season: Washington Roundtable

Hopefully, the awe-inspiring sucktitude of the Mariners ruins Jake Locker's 2010 season.
Hopefully, the awe-inspiring sucktitude of the Mariners ruins Jake Locker's 2010 season.

TwistNHook: What's the over/under on the number of times Mark May calls him Jack Locker this year?

Berkelium97: Jack or Jake, that guy terrifies me. Last year his first pass against the Bears was a 38 yard strike. The next one was a 40 yard touchdown. 6 minutes in and that game was already over.

This guy lives up to the hype. He may not have earth-shattering stats, but he clearly gets the job done under pressure. Take a look at his passing stats during various down and distance situations:

54%, 6.75 yards per pass attempt on 1st down
58% 5.86ypa on 2nd
64% and 9 ypa (!) on 3rd down:
60%, 6.2 ypa on 3rd and 1-3 yards; 68%, 6.4ypa on 3rd and 4-6; 61%, 7.83ypa on 3rd and 7-9; and finally 64.3% and a spectacular 12.2 ypa on 3rd and 10+
63% on 4th (and each time he converted the pass Washington gained the 1st down)

Give him the ball on third down, and odds are in his favor that he will get the first down. This guy simply excels in tough situations in a way that no other Pac-10 QB does.

Kodiak: For starters, let me just say that I hate having a conference game after the Big Game. At least this year, we don't have to play up in the frozen tundra. Normally, it would be tough to come off the emotional high of a rivalry game to stay focused. But, all Tedford needs to do is to lock the guys in a film room with last year's lowlight reel. Either that, or stick a life-size blowout of Locker kissing his mom in the locker room. (maybe they can borrow Atoms' Fathead decal)

The talking heads have Locker pegged as a top 5 pick with the potential to go #1. I'm still not sure. He's a tremendous athlete with a monster arm, no doubt. But, he still seems to do his best work when improvising. As a pure dropback passer making reads and delivering accurate throws on time...well, I guess we'll see. I certainly can't say anything after he lit us up last year. Sadly enough, last year's game plan to blitz 1-2 extra guys in the 1st half played into Locker's strengths. He's mobile and strong enough to avoid being brought down easily, and once he extends the play he becomes very, very dangerous. I actually think he's less effective when you clog the passing lanes as opposed to applying pressure which forces him to just play on instinct. They also return their big-play threat at WR, Kearse, and their steady possession guy, Goodwin. They'll have two new starters on the O-line, but with Locker's wheels, that may not matter. Some people have claimed their RB Polk is on par with Vereen, but we all know that's a bit of a reach.(sorry Uncle Ted)

On defense, their front 7 is formidable. They have a stud senior tackle, and return a trio of senior LB's with plenty of speed and experience. Their secondary is still a work in progress, however. In addition to being one scary-looking dude, Holt seems to be a pretty decent coordinator, so I'd expect their defense to be improved over last year.

I know nothing about their special teams. However, I automatically assume that they're better than ours. Sigh.

If Riley is ever going to put it together, it'll be now - his final home game as a senior. And, it comes at the perfect time. Although the Huskies stack the box to stop Vereen, Riley is able to make them pay by hitting Miller and Jones for key completions. Pendergast works up a masterful gameplan. He provides so many different looks that Locker is confused and is exposed as an athlete still learning to play QB. Following our theme of senior redemption, Hagan clinches the game with a pick-six. Cal wins, 27-14.

OhioBear: Here we go. The traditional season ending game against...

For the third year in a row, we finish the regular season against the Huskies. I don't think I'm the only one who thinks that feels rong. This year's game has a rare wrinkle for us -- for the first time since 2001 and the first time since 1993 in a regularly-scheduled game, Cal will be playing on Thanksgiving weekend. And we OWN Thanksgiving weekend. Who can forget the epic 20-10 ass kicking we gave Rutgers in Tom Holmoe's final game in 2001? And in 1993, we Lindsey Chapman'd Hawaii to the tune of 42-18. Tryptophan fatigue? Fuhgeddaboutit.
This one feels like a payback game. Washington generally, and Jake Locker in particular, pwned us last year. We sleptwalked in Seattle and an intensely motivated Washington team crushed us on UW's senior day. This year, the game is at Memorial, on our senior day. Turnabout is fair play? I hope so. But I don't think we can expect this to be an easy victory. Jake Locker is good -- we will see just how good (barring injury) by the time this game rolls around. And I think their WR Kearse is quite a player. This will be a game where we need a good game plan from CLANCYYYYYYYY! to help put our defense in position to be successful.
We can win this game, though. I'm on record thinking Riley will have a good senior season, and this will be his final game at Memorial Stadium. If he plays well in this one, maybe we will be treated to a QB duel between Riley and Locker. Locker might have the edge in that. But we have the edge in the Vereen vs. Polk running back matchup. Vereen churns out yards in the 4th quarter and our defense makes just enough plays to keep Locker from killing us.

Prediction: Cal 37, Washington 28. Huck the Fuskies.

CALumbusBear: F, or is it H, Washington. We'll kill 'em this year, 45-17.

TwistNHook: When it comes for goals for Locker, let's go straight to the source:

In the meantime, I thought I would look at what was one of the more interesting things Steve Sarkisian said in his press conference Thursday --- that his goal for Jake Locker this season is a completion percentage of 65-68 percent, with a touchdown-to-interception ratio of 3-1.

As the articles goes on to note, this can be difficult to manage:

As I've noted here before, only three UW quarterbacks in school history --- of those who qualified to be the yearly passing leader --- have had season completion percentages of 60 percent or higher.

Those three are:

Steve Pelluer, 1983 --- 232-357, 65.0 percent
Damon Huard, 1995 --- 198-313, 63.5 percent
Don Heinrich, 1950 --- 134-221, 60.4 percent

And regarding the TD-interception ratio:

A 3-1 TD-to-interception ratio has been even rarer.

Again, of QBs who qualified as the team's yearly passing leader, it's been done only once --- in 2006 when Isaiah Stanback had 10 touchdowns against three interceptions before being lost for the year to injury in the seventh game of the season.

Of QBs who played a full season, the best TD-to-INT ratio is Brock Huard's 2.5 in 1997, when he threw 25 touchdowns against 10 interceptions (half of those coming in one game, the Apple Cup).

So, keep an eye out for Locker to be in the 60%s for completion percentage and trying to keep interceptions down.

NorCalNick: Count me as a Washington skeptic. I do think that Sarkesian has done a good job so far, and that UW is certainly on the upswing. But people are seriously picking UW as a Pac-10 title contender? A year after they didn't even make a bowl? A year after they didn't win a road game? In case everybody has forgotten, the Huskies finished 0-12 in 2008. 0-12. Two years ago. I don't care how great a coach you are, it's almost impossible to turn an 0-12 team into a Pac-10 champion in two years, because the talent rebuild is just too extreme. Lest we forget, Cal fans were thrilled with Jeff Tedford for an 8-6 season in 2003 after 1-10 in 2001. I think a similar campaign from Washington would be a pretty good step.

Frankly, I think that the UW love is based on a close win over a USC team with a backup statue at QB and a blowout win over Cal. But everybody seems to be glossing over blowout losses to Stanford, Oregon and Oregon St. and losses to bad Arizona St. and UCLA teams. Sarkesian has resurrected UW enough that they have the ability to beat any team. But he hasn't rebuilt them yet that they should be favored to beat most teams, especially on the road. So needless to say, I'm very happy that Cal gets the Huskies in Memorial Stadium.

HydroTech: I don't know if Washington will win the Pac-10, but they should be pretty scary on offense with Jake Locker at QB. While a lot of people have dissed his passing numbers, which aren't great (58.4%, 7.1 ypa, 21 TDs, 2.79% INT), the dude can do so much with his legs. Last year, he ran for 577 yards and 7 touchdowns. That's pretty impressive.

Am I the only one the finds it sort of ironic how the Pac-10 supposedly has two of top future NFL draft pick QBs in the nation (Locker and Luck), yet both of them have somewhat disappointing completion rates? Locker's passing statistics are listed above, but I'll repeat them again here: 58.4%, 7.1 ypa, 21 TDs, 2.79% INT. Obviously, for being a top future NFL draft pick, you'd wish Locker had a completion percentage around 65% or so. Likewise, Luck's passing statistics aren't any more impressive in the completion rate department: 56.2%, 8.94 ypa, 13 TDs, 1.38% INT.

I mean, if that low of a completion rate is needed to be a top draft pick, then Riley (54.7%) should be in the talk too, right??? Right?!?!?

Yellow Fever: Of course, the best comparison to Locker is probably Michael Vick in terms of skill set - and he had completion perecentage of 58.8% and 54.2% in his two years starting. Is Locker as fast as Vick? Probably not, but then again, no one's getting shot at his birthday parties either. (We hope.)

I'm still a little confused about the hype with Locker though. For all the talk about his physical tools he hasn't demonstrated that he has the arm to take over a game, and for all the talk about his wheels, he hasn't demonstrated that he can take over a game running in the way that Vince Young, Vick, Donovan McNabb, or Tim Tebow could in college. Then again, the NFL likes shiny tools more than proven performance a lot of the time, especially in its QBs.

Berkelium97: I'm not looking forward to hosting Locker for his last collegiate game (unless he gets injured or goes to a bowl).

Washington 31, Cal 30.

TwistNHook: UW got a little bitter thinner at RB with one of their backup RBs out for the year with a torn ACL:

RB Deontae Cooper (pictured) arrived about midway through, walking on in crutches, then watched the rest from the sidelines.

It was a vivid reminder of the tough news over for the weekend for the Huskies, that Cooper would be lost for the year after suffering a torn ACL in Saturday night's practice when he was tackled after about a 32-yard run.

Nick Polk is their main man at RB. Last year, he ran 22 times for 94 yards against Cal. So, with lessened depth at RB, perhaps that allows Cal to focus in on stopping Locker. Who knows?

This may be Locker's last collegiate game. But it'll also be the last game at Old Memorial Stadium before the upgrades. Should be an experience. Let's send Old Memorial out on a good note! GO BEARS!