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Sark's inherited corpse takes baby steps
Malamute, 19 April 2009

If Steve Sarkisian's inherited corpse sat up and took nourishment during last week's scrimmage, it can be said that its first steps were taken this last scrimmage.

I mean, QB Jake Locker marches the number one offense down the field on its first possession -- but, alas, the offense stalls in the red zone and is bailed out by a special team's field goal. Still, these are baby steps, mind you. But then Locker completes all five of his passes (for 54 yards) on the next drive. Demetrius Bronson takes it in from 7 yards out, to post the Ones' first touchdown. On the next drive by the number one offense, Locker connects with Devin Aguilar on a 26-yard TD pass.

All in all, Jake goes 10-16 for 133 yards with one touchdown and an interception.

Locker's arm looks fine; his legs haven't been tested yet. That will happen in the first game of the season against LSU when he shows off his new motor as a pro-style quarterback, while delivering an old fashioned Elway cross. 

The scrimmage consisted of three quarters and an overtime period. The first team offense was matched against the first team defense in the first and third quarters and against the second team defense in both the second quarter and the overtime.

The Huskies posted 29 points, with Demetrius Bronson and Chris Polk each rushing for a touchdown and Anthony Boyles and Devin Aguilar each having a TD reception. Locker threw one of the touchdown passes and Ronnie Fouch the other. Kicker Erik Folk booted one field goal (a 29 yarder) but missed two try for points.

At the start of the scrimmage the number one OL was as follows: LT Cody Habben, LG Ryan Tolar,  C Mykenna Ikehara, RG Senio Kelemete and RT Drew Schaefer. However, after the first quarter, the first unit mostly went with a starting line that had Ben Ossai at LG and Ryan Tolar at center.

Not counting the quarterbacks' running totals (8 rushes, 7 yards), the Dawgs rushed 29 times for 169 yards at a clip of 5.82 yards per attempt. I'm counting David Freeman's 21-yard gallop here in my stats.

The previous week -- the sit-up-and-take-nourishment scrimmage -- the Huskies rushed for 88 yards on 32 carries. See Table 2.

"I think today, as a whole, there was an emphasis to run the ball a little bit and we were able to establish a pretty good running game I thought,'' Bob Condotta quotes Locker as saying. "We moved the ball well running the ball, we were able to gain positive yardage on first downs especially and put ourselves in really manageable down and distance I think it really helped our offense flow today."

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

Of course, you can make any point you want with statistics, and here's a good example.  In his last 7 games (4 regular games last season, plus the last three scrimmages, last year's spring game and the last two Saturday scrimmages), Locker has completed 57.6% of his passes, throwing 144 times while completing 83 passes for 946 yards and 4 touchdowns against two picks. This computes to a rating of 119.21. See Table 1.

So, why make a point of the data in Table 1? In the three scrimmages listed in the table, the data accumulated are from one of the worst offenses in the country last season matched against one of the country's worst defenses? Garbage in, garbage out. Right?

It seems to me what these data suggest -- that is, the passing efficiency statistic -- is that when Locker's offensive line and receivers are the equal or the better of the pass defense he is facing, he is as good a passer as any other quarterback in the Pac-10, if not better. The Oklahoma stats buttress this notion.

Also, augmenting my assumption, note that Fouch's spring numbers parallel his numbers from last season (PE=85.1), when his offense was overmatched against the opposing defense. See Table 2.

Over his 16-game career at Washington, Locker has had a rating of 100-plus-per-game in 9 of them, with a 53.8% completion rate, for an average rating of 129.14. In the other 7 games, he has a mediocre average rating of 77.14, completing 42.9% of his passes.

These data correlate with one's intuition, but still, they don't really prove a thing -- other than being an interesting note in passing.

Coach Dick Baird, my friend, there is some hope for this season. Throw in a running game and who knows what will happen.

Here is what Nick Daschel of bustersports.com has to say about the top 10 defensive tackles in the Pac-10. (Link). If the Huskies are to succeed this season, it is important that either one of their two defensive tackles Cameron Elisara or Alameda Ta'amu -- or someone else or both for that matter -- be worthy of such a list going into the 2010 season.


That's Chris Izbicki in the photo above, which I purchased from Replay Photos. Since I liked the dark-purple color of Izbicki's jersey, I didn't bother to brighten the photo.

Table 1. Jake Locker's passing efficiency rating over his last 7 games, which includes three scrimmages. He has completed 57.6% of his passes. When Locker's offensive line and receivers are the equal or the better of the pass defense he is facing, he is as good a passer as any other quarterback in the Pac-10, if not better. The Oklahoma stats buttress this notion.

Game C A Y T I PE C A Y T I PE
Spring '08 13 17 159 1 1 161.69 13 17 159 1 1 161.69
Oregon 12 28 103 0 0 73.76 25 45 262 1 1 107.35
BYU 17 32 204 1 0 116.19 42 77 466 2 1 111.36
Oklahoma 16 24 154 0 0 120.57 58 101 620 2 1 113.54
Stanford 5 9 51 0 0 103.16 63 110 671 2 1 112.69
04/11/09 10 18 142 1 0 140.16 73 128 813 3 1 116.56
04/18/09 10 16 133 1 1 140.45 83 144 946 4 2 119.21

Table 2. Statistics from last three scrimmages. The data from the 4/18/09 scrimmage was provided by the UW Sports information department. The data from the 4/11 scrimmage was taken from Bob Condotta's blog, with some unsettling qualifications from Bob notwithstanding.

  Scrimmage 04/18 Scrimmage, 04/011/09 Spring game 2008
Total Points 29 37 17
Jake Locker 10-16, 133, 1,1 (140.45) 10-18, 142, 1,0 (140.16) 13-17, 159, 1, 1 (161.69)
Ronnie Fouch 7-18, 85, 1, 1, (85.78) 11-21, 146, 0, 1 (101.26) 16-33, 154, 1, 0, (97.68)
Willie Griffin 4-35 11-39 20-71
Curtis Shaw 3-18 2 (-1)  
D. Bronson 5-25, 1 TD 13-28, 2 TDs  
D. Freeman 2-14 7-32  
Chris Polk 8-43, 1 TD   5-20
B. Johnson 6-13   6-18
B. Yakaboski     5-18
J. Polk 1-21    
Anthony Boyles 3-23, 1 TD 4-73 2-14
Cody Bruns 1-25 3-32  
J. Kearse 2-22 2-43  
D. Aguilar 2-48, 1 TD 3-73 2-37
Chris Izbicki   1-8 2-23
Jordan Polk 1-8 3-36  
D. Goodwin   (out) 7-109
Chris Polk     4-25
C. Hawkins     5-34
K. Middleton 3-23    
D. Bronson 2-20    
T. Chidiac 1-20    
Ben Hayes 1-17    
Paul Homer 1-8    
D. Freeman 1-8    

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

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