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Saturday's scrimmage was encouraging...but
Malamute, 13 April 2009

Steve Sarkisian's inherited corpse is sitting up on its own and taking nourishment. The remnant of one of the worst teams in college football last season is showing life -- but it's too early to tell whether it will walk on its own by fall.

The relatively effusive scrimmage on Saturday, which saw 37 points posted on the board, was most encouraging when placed in the context of last year's spring game where the two teams combined for just 17 points. The Dawgs averaged 13.2 points per game last year.

On Saturday, Jake Locker passed for one touchdown, Demetrius Bronson rushed for two more and Jordan Polk ran a kickoff off back for 80 yards and a score. Erik Folk booted three field goals of 46, 35, and 47 yards under the cloud of less than ideal weather.

The swirling winds apparently didn't bother QB Jake Locker either, who completed 55% of his passes, which is 5% under the bogey Sark has set for him. Inside the red zone, Locker is more threatening than a bull in a china shop, having the ability to take it to the house with either his motor or an Elway cross. 

Locker's throwing motion might not be as enigmatic as people think when viewed under some encouraging stats.

Of course, you can make any point you want with statistics, and here's a good example.  In his last 5 1/2 games (3 1/2 regular games last season, plus the last two scrimmages, last year's spring game and Saturday's scrimmage), Locker has completed 57% of his passes, throwing 128 times and completing 73 passes for 813 yards and 3 touchdowns against one pick. This computes to a rating of 116.56, plus or minus a point or two because of the two sets of unofficial stats.

WR Anthony Boyles and Locker's two tight ends (Chris Izbicki and Kavario Middleton) give him a triplet of tall receivers to aim at. With Washington's most prolific receiver last year, D'Andre Goodwin, getting a half-inch boost in height over at dawgman.com who knows what will happen? ;-)

Seriously, there is certainly hope for UW's passing attack going into its first game against LSU, statistics notwithstanding.

Over his 16-game career at UW, Locker has completed 48.7% of his passes, which is the stat his naysayers quote and the one the media will use when presaging the Huskies' conference finish in August.

Playing against the number one offense, the number one defense excelled as well as the offense did, maybe even better. They never allowed a rush of longer than 11 yards and had five QB sacks. UW's running backs had 88 yards on 32 carries. The five sacks, of course, are tempered by the fact that the quarterbacks were off limits to tackling; just being touched was considered a tackle.

The defensive front four (defensive ends Daniel Te'o-Nesheim and Darrion Jones and defensive tackles Alameda Ta'amu and Camaron Elisira) was singled out by coach Steve Sarkisian for its stout play, along with the linebackers.

“I thought our number one defensive front did a nice job of stopping the run and getting to the quarterback,” Sarkisian was quoted as saying. “Coach Holt did a nice job with his pressure packages.”

Now for the "but" in our headline.

What's missing from all the euphoria is some positive commentary about the progress of the offensive line, which is of primary concern this spring.

Over at coachsark.com, Sarkisian lists his "Daily Five" after each practice. In the category "Players of the Day" Sark has singled out just one offensive linemen, Mykenna Ikehara, this after the fifth practice of the seven practices that have been held thus far. Ikehara redshirted last season.

Averaging an anemic 2.75 yards per run doesn't speak well for the forward push of the big guys up front, especially considering that UW's defense last season allowed 240.6 rushing yards per game.

That part of Sark's inherited corpse still has some rigor mortis set in.



Nick Daschel of bustersports.com pays tribute to coach Bruce Snyder who passed away from cancer.

Table 1. Some partial statistics from last two spring scrimmages. Very unofficial. Part of this data was taken from Bob Condotta's blog.

  Scrimmage, 04/011/09 Spring game 2008
Total Points 37 17
Jake Locker 10-18, 142, 1,0 (140.16) 13-17, 159, 1, 1 (161.69)
Ronnie Fouch 11-21, 146, 0, 1 (101.26) 16-33, 154, 1, 0, (97.68)
Willie Griffin 11-39 20-71
Curtis Shaw 2 (-1)  
D. Bronson 13-28, 2 TDs  
D. Freeman 7-32  
Chris Polk   5-20
B. Johnson   6-18
B. Yakaboski   5-18
Anthony Boyles 4-73 2-14
Cody Bruns 3-32  
J. Kearse 2-43  
D. Aguilar 3-73 2-37
Chris Izbicki 1-8 2-23
Jordan Polk 3-36  
D. Goodwin (out) 7-109
Chris Polk   4-25
C. Hawkins   5-34

Richard Linde can be reached at malamute@4malamute.com

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