Early Look at the Huskies

As the Cougars prepare for Washington, they're finding a lot of unknowns after Washington's loss to Oregon last week. While the defense is still finding its way and identity after getting stomped on by the Ducks, one aspect of Washington's overall attack remains secure and indeed very dangerous. That aspect is Jake Locker and the headaches he can cause for any defensive unit.

"Jake Locker is a great athlete, maybe the best athlete I've seen at quarterback on film with how he runs," said defensive lineman Jan Jorgensen. "We'll have to stop him and it won't be easy because he's obviously very talented."

Indeed, Locker presents a formidable challenge for any defensive unit. At 6 feet 3 inches and 222 pounds, Locker is big, mobile and fast. He's sort of a rich man's Kevin O'Connell, who gave the Cougar defense some fits last year in their game against San Diego State.

"They're similar, but Locker is a lot faster from what I've seen," said Jorgensen in comparing Locker to O‘Connell. "They're both big, but what makes Locker so good is that he's as fast as any quarterback I've seen. He's a load and we've got our work cut out for us in how to defend him."

Head coach Bronco Mendenhall has been extremely impressed by Locker after watching a total of 11 games he's played in.

"I haven't seen a team yet that was able to run him down," said Mendenhall. "He's physical with the football and makes great decisions. He's difficult to tackle and he might be the fastest player on their team and certainly would be the fastest player on our team, and that combination presents all kinds of problems."

So how to defend Locker and what he presents, whether it be when scrambling out of the pocket or running the option?

"You try to keep him in the pocket and make him throw the ball," said Jorgensen. "When you let them get out of the pocket and run around to make plays, that's where quarterbacks like Locker really hurt you, so we can't let him do that."

Jorgensen has a lot of confidence in defensive coordinator Jaime Hill's ability to create the right game plan to defend Locker and the threat he presents. Also, the zone-heavy 3-4 base defensive scheme that the Cougars run gives the BYU defense an added advantage.

"Coach Hill knows what he's doing and as the week goes on I feel we'll have a good game plan to defend [Locker]," said Jorgensen. "It's all about staying assignment-sound and keeping aggressive, but not aggressive without keeping our assignments. It's about shooting gaps effectively and not letting him get outside and whatnot. We'll be ready."

Over on the Offense

"Some of the stuff they do on defense is very similar to Northern Iowa," said Max Hall regarding Washington's base defensive system. "They play that same Tampa-two coverage. What Washington will play is sort of a two-robber, which is almost the same thing, but at the same time they'll go three down or four down linemen, they'll blitz you and they'll even play some cover four and mix it up more."

For those that don't speak college quarterback-ese, Washington simply puts in one or two so-called "robbers" while taking out a defensive lineman or linebacker. Simply stated, they run a lot of nickel and dime packages and will be expected to do so when BYU presents its formations with multiple wideouts and even multiple tight ends.

What Hall felt he needed to improve on most following the first game of the year was his pre-snap reads. With what Washington presents defensively and how they mix up coverages, those reads become even more important.

Hall also noted that they have some very fast and athletic linebackers and defensive backs that will be flying around and making plays. What may be their potential weakness is open-field tackling, as Hall and company noted a lot of missed tackles against Oregon last week.

"They're going to be tough," said Hall. "They're a Pac-10 team and they have very good talent. They're going to be improved from what we saw against Oregon, no question, and we have to be ready for a tough defensive unit that will show us some different things and change up more stuff than Northern Iowa did last week."

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