Five players the Huskies can ill
afford to lose
Malamute, 26 February 2010
can think of a number of players the Huskies can ill afford to lose in
the 2010 season, either due to injury, to scholastic ineligibility or to
an off-field problem, say. Losing the following players, in my opinion,
would be devastating to Washington. (Will Mahan, photo left).
(1) Not only is Jake Locker a 10-star quarterback, but his full
participation in all 12 scheduled games this upcoming season is as
necessary as a well-functioning electronics throttle control system in a
modern-day car -- even though Locker is known for his sudden
acceleration -- otherwise the Huskies are liable to tube it.
Over Jake's career, he's missed playing in 10 out of a possible 37 games
if you count half of two games he played in as one: Oregon State in 2007
and Stanford in 2008. That is, he's missed playing in 27% of the games
over his career at Washington due to injuries. As he did last year -- in
a remarkable 5-7 season -- Locker needs to stay healthy in 2010;
otherwise, the Huskies' chances for post-season play will be as slim as
a software engineer successfully debugging a timing problem in the
aforementioned control system. (**)
Last season, Locker led the conference in total offense, averaging 265.7
yards per game. He finished fourth in pass efficiency, posting a rating
of 130.1, according to the Pac-10 stats. (*) Locker finished second in
passing average per game with a 233.3 YPG average and rushed for 388
Washington's only experienced backups, quarterback Ronnie Fouch out of
Riverside County, has transferred from school, as has walk-on QB Taylor
Bean, who played two games in the 2008 season. That leaves redshirt
freshman Keith Price and true freshman Nick Montana to fill in for
Locker should he suffer injury. Coach Steve Sarkisian is looking for
somebody to walk on at the QB position.
(2) Tailback Chris Polk finished fourth in the conference in rushing
last season, averaging 92.8 yards per game. He was injured in the 2008
season, and played in just two games. He is the first freshman in school
history to run for over 1,000 yards in one season.
His back up, Demetrius Bronson, rushed for 89 yards last season, playing
in 9 games.
Also out of Riverside County, as is Polk, true freshman Deontae Cooper
is a 4-star running back who led California in rushing in his junior and
senior high school years at Citrus Hill in Perris, which is a hiccup
Norco, the home of the conference's best player last season, Toby Gerhart. (***)
Cooper's career 7,450 yards'
rushing are second in Inland Empire history, only behind Gerhart, who
was a runner up for the 2009 Heisman Trophy.
Recently, Polk had shoulder surgery, his second in two years. Although
expected to miss spring practice, he should be ready by fall.
(3) Losing kicker/place kicker Erik Folk would be a devastating blow to the Dawgs.
He's sure to wear a yellow jersey during spring scrimmages.
Last season, Folk
(photo, front page) connected on 18 of 21 field goal attempts and
made 35 of 35 PAT tries. He was named the 2009 KJR special team's MVP.
His .857 field goal percentage is third best in Husky history. He missed
playing in the 2007 and 2008 seasons largely due to injury.
Losing kicker/punter/placekicker Alejandro Maldonado to the 2010
and to Oregon, was a big disappointment. UW finished eighth in conference-kickoff-coverage last season, and could have used a fresh leg to spell
Folk this season.
Folk kicked three field
goals, one a 46 yarder, in Washington's 16-13 signature win over USC
(4) Will Mahan. Mahan handled all the punting chores last season and
finished the year with a 40.6 yard average on 52 punts, which was good
for seventh in the conference. He averaged 50.3 YPP in the Stanford
game, with a long of 61 yards, his longest of the year.
Losing Maldonado makes
Mahan's good health on the season all the more vital. He doesn't need to
audition for the Glant Tough Husky Award on punt
returns, his bullish appearance notwithstanding.
I'm not knocking punter Kiel
Rasp or kicker Eric Guttorp, who are walk-on backups to Mahan and Folk,
respectively. Each of them could be a fine replacement should one of
the aforementioned starters goes down. It's just that Mahan and Folk got
all the work last season, and the two walk-ons have no live-game
Last season, they backed up
Folk and Mahan, who both stayed healthy.
Maldonado would have been a
better replacement for Mahan -- rather than Rasp, say -- since he
would have been gaining valuable experience for the 2011 season, considering
the departure of Mahan.
(5) Mason Foster returns at strong side linebacker. One of his three
interceptions on the season, his pick-6 against Arizona sealed
Washington's 36-33 victory. In that game, Foster intercepted a deflected
pass off the shoe of
Dean and took it 37 yards to the house with 2:57 remaining. Foster's
"pick-Nick" by the lake was a shocking conclusion to what had been a
dominating performance by UA in the second half. (****)
registered 85 total tackles last season, second to Donald Butler, who
has graduated, and finished seventh in the league in average tackles per
game (7.1). He set a school record of six forced fumbles last season,
and finished third in the nation.
was named to the Sporting News' all Pac-10 team and
won the Earle T. Glant Tough Husky Award at
UW's postseason banquet.
Malfunctions, puns and wishes:
(*) NCAA stats say his rating should be 129.75, a number that agrees
with my record keeping.
(**) Since its related to timing, trying to reproduce the conditions
causing the malfunction would be more than challenging.
(***) How about giving Cooper the redoubtable
number-8 -- you know, the same number Nip, Willie and Kenny wore on
(****) He intercepted Nick Foles, hence the pun on his name
(Foster's pick-Nick by the lake), no