Sarkisian Evaluates Jake Locker's Season

With the Huskies enjoying a much-needed bye week, UW Head Coach Steve Sarkisian is taking the time to evaluate all facets of the program. Part of his evaluation has led to a deeper look at Jake Locker, the role he's been given as the leader of the Huskies' offense and the improvement he's shown this season.

"I just think overall, you take a pounding as a quarterback. You play eight straight weeks of football and that takes its toll on you," Sarkisian said at his weekly Monday press conference, following verification that Locker suffered a quad injury early in the game against Oregon. Sarkisian also said Tuesday night during his weekly coach's show that the injury was severe enough that if the Huskies were to play this Saturday Locker would not be available for action.

Along with a few other banged-up starters, Locker will get a significant amount of rest during this bye week to allow his injury to fully heal. The time off will also give him a much-needed mental break. Backup Ronnie Fouch and freshman Keith Price will get more plays at quarterback in Locker's place.

Sarkisian is the first to admit that he's asked a lot of Locker in a short amount of time, starting at spring practices through the duration of the season to date. Locker has been adjusting to not only new styles of coaching, practicing and play-calling, but a completely revamped offense.

"I've been proud of him," Sarkisian said. "This is not an easy process. To change a guy's game from a running standpoint to a pro-style quarterback is not an easy process. I've said since day one, there's going to be ups and downs, there's going to be growing pains, and it's our ability to learn from those growing pains."

Sarkisian said the coaching staff has stayed away from a completely pro-style offense to fit the team's strengths. Their goal remains to play to Locker's abilities, allowing him to run the ball at times but also encouraging him to be more of a distributor. The last thing they want to be is one-dimensional.

The Huskies have faced several strong teams, including three that are currently ranked in the Top-10 - LSU, USC and Oregon. Competing against those strong defenses hasn't always been easy for Jake and the Huskies, and at times he admits he's trying too hard.

"Obviously you want to make plays and try to win a football game," Locker said following the loss to Oregon. "So you're going to do everything you can to do that and sometimes you get outside yourself and outside the game plan."

Sarkisian hopes the bye week will allow his somewhat banged-up team a chance to regroup and recharge in all aspects. There may be no one person that needs it more than the quarterback.

"I think this bye is coming at a good time," Sarkisian said. "Not only physically but mentally for Jake to kind of regroup, to assess how we're playing and then close out this season the way we know we can close it out."

Whether Sarkisian's first season as head coach ends as a winning one or not, he feels confident he's put in place a system that allows Locker to develop into a professional player.

"There has been a fine line of fitting him in to this system but also taking his strengths and playing to his strengths and implementing some of those things," Sarkisian said. "But this guy is talented mentally, he's talented physically, and in the end the dividends are going to pay off for him and for this program. The NFL is going to come calling for him, and we're going to be a pretty good football team based on what we're doing with him."

As to exactly when Jake Locker answers those calls from the NFL, Sarkisian promises that timeline is far from his mind, even if it means these next four games could be the last four Locker plays as a Husky.

"I don't worry about that stuff. I really don't," Sarkisian said. "Those days after the season, if he comes to even thinking about making that decision, are a long ways away. Before the NFL draft comes, that's a long way to go, a lot of information to digest before we worry about that." Top Stories