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Husked, shucked and shocked
Blackshirts do a "Nick Foles" on Locker
Malamute, 18 September 2010

Behind quarterback Taylor Martinez out of Corona, who ran for 137 yards and three touchdowns and threw for another 150 yards and a score, the eighth-ranked Nebraska Cornhuskers thrashed the Washington Huskies 56-21 at Husky Stadium.

"I know we're a better football team than what we put on the field today in all three phases," coach Steve Sarkisian said. "I know we can tackle better than that. I know we can throw the football better than that and I know we can protect the quarterback better than that."

His team had all the appearances of the 2008 team, which went 0-12 under former coach Tyrone Willingham. For example, in support of my contention, the play-by-play man on ABC television said that the Huskies were one of the worst cover teams he's ever seen in college football. See this week's NCAA statistics.

Because his receivers were blanketed for most of the game, Jake Locker had a miserable day passing the ball. He completed just 4 of 20 passes (20%) and threw for one touchdown against two picks, all of which translates to a passing efficiency of 46.32, the worst of his career at Washington.

Locker added 59 yards rushing and a touchdown.

"I didn't really hook up with anybody," Locker said. "I just think they did a really good job within their defense and I tried to force a few balls when I could have dropped it down to other guys. A lot of factors didn't allow us to be really consistent in the passing game today."

While everyone is hammering away at Locker's performance, let me shed some badly needed perspective on it. (See "R. I. P. Washington Husky football: How Jake Locker killed your program."

First of all, forget all the Heisman hype that the delusional sportswriters have inchoately invented for Jake.

Hey, much appreciated, guys ... but don't you blokes trade in failure?

Theirs is called a straw-man argument, where Jake is being set up as a straw man. If he fails as a Heisman candidate, then he fails as a quarterback, so goes the twisted logic. (#)

The hyperbole sells papers, and it has legs once the so-called Heisman candidate takes a pratfall, no matter how realistic his chances were in the first place. Playing on a wretched team, in the second year of a five-year rebuilding effort, Locker and his chances of winning the Heisman Trophy were zilch at the sound of the gun. Locker was never a legitimate candidate in the first place.

Also, see "More on the Arizona benchmark," for our timetable of getting the Dawgs to a bowl. Fans, it is not going to happen overnight; they don't FedEx bowl appearances.

Now for his performance.

In our sneak peak at the game back in March, we wrote that "Locker's PE on the game will play to the mercy of Nebraska's PED (pass efficiency defense)."

For this reason.

In the past, Locker's pass efficiency per game has been a function of the pass-efficiency defense he's faced. In 2009, Nebraska ranked number one in FBS football in that category. In the 2009 Holiday Bowl, the Cornhuskers held Arizona QB Nick Foles to a miserable 33.67 rating and a 30% pass-completion percentage.

Join the club, Jake, you're in good company with Foles.

So how about this year?

Going into the game with UW, Nebraska ranked fourth in the nation in pass efficiency defense with an impressive rating of 80.69. Surely, the Cornhuskers will be number one in that category when the stats come out next week.

In other words, this year's Blackshirts are an outstanding defensive football team, in every sense of the shirt's rich history and tradition.

Jake Locker, bear no shame for your proud performance.

Using the 2008 season as a metric, Locker seemingly is worth about 10 points per game to the Huskies. After his injury in the 2008 season, the Huskies averaged 10 points per game. Before his injury, they averaged 19.75 points per game, which included games against powerful Oregon and Oklahoma.

As an example, after Martinez' 80-yard touchdown run, Locker single-handedly took charge of the Nebraska game on the next Huskies' series, this coming on a two-play touchdown drive after the following kickoff, as he ran for 33 yards and then threw a 45-yard touchdown to Jermaine Kearse on the next play.

Speaking of a rich tradition that is supported by the local media, that is, the Blackshirts and scribes in Lincoln. I'm currently reading "Scoreboard, Baby: a Story of College Football Crime and Complicity," by Ken Armstrong and Nick Perry, the award-winning authors of Seattle Times' fame. Obviously, Sark had no idea what he was getting into when he took the job at Washington. Tyrone and Rick, wipe those smiles off your faces. (*)

Nick Foles was superb in leading Arizona on its winning touchdown drive last night. And in the rich tradition of the Desert Swarm, the Wildcats' defense sacked the Iowa quarterback four times on his team's ensuing drive.

And Rick's pistol or revolver offense -- or whatever he calls it -- cannonaded a ranked Houston team last night. 

Suddenly, the home games against UCLA and ASU, which gave a ranked Wisconsin team a scare, don't look so winnable anymore.

Please forgive our corny headline, "Husked, shucked, and shocked."

Here's Bob Condotta's story on the game.

(#) "A straw man argument is an informal fallacy based on misrepresentation of an opponent's position. To 'attack a straw man' is to create the illusion of having refuted a proposition by substituting a superficially similar yet nonequivalent proposition (the 'straw man'), and refuting it, without ever having actually refuted the original position. Wikipedia. Original position: Locker is a failure at quarterback. Straw man: Locker is cast as a Heisman Trophy candidate.

(*) Their book omits relevant information that would otherwise place the careers of Gil Dobie and Jim Owens, along with the life of fallen Husky icon Curtis Williams, in their proper perspective.

Team 1 2 3 4 Total
Nebraska 14 14 21 7 56
Washington 7 7 7 0 21

Time Team How Player (s) Score
1st qtr        
12:49 Neb TD Taylor Martinez 24-yard pass to Mike McNeill. Alex Henery kick. NU, 7-0
10:45 Neb TD Martinez 1 yard run; Henery kick. NU, 14-0
5:11 UW TD Jake Locker 7 yard run; Erik Folk kick. NU, 14-7
2nd qtr
8:43 Neb TD Roy Helu 8 yard run; Henery kick. NU, 21-7
5:06 UW TD Chris Polk 2 yard run; Folk boot. NU, 21-14
1:19 Neb TD Martinez 1 yard run; Henery kick. NU, 28-14
3rd qtr
14:39 Neb TD Martinez 80-yard run' Henery kick. NU, 35-14
13:59 UW TD Locker 45-yard pass to Jermaine Kearse; Folk kick. NU, 35-21
12:06 Neb TD Helu 65-yard run; Henery kick. NU, 42-21
8:21 Neb TD Alphonzo Dennard 31-yard interception return; Henery kick. NU, 49-21


4th qtr
7:12 Neb TD Rex Burkhead 19-yard run; Henery boot. NU, 56-21


Statistic Neb UW
Total First Downs 21 13
  Rushing 15 10
  Passing 6 2
  Penalty 0 1
Total Net Yards 533 246
Net Yards Passing 150 71
Net Yards Rushing 383 175
Completions-att-int 7-11-0 4-20-2
Punts, yards, average 5-236, 47.2 9-438, 48.7
Sacks by (number, yards) 1-8 3-19
Kickoff Returns: number, yds, tds 4-112-0 3-65-0
Punt returns: number, yds, tds 6-58-0 2-25-0
Kickoff Yards 9-618 4-253
Net Yards per kickoff 50.3 35.2
Average yards per kickoff 68.7 63.2
Touchbacks (kickoffs) 5 0
Third-down conversions 7 of 12 4 of 14
Interception returns: no., yds, tds 2-42-1 0-0-0
Penalties, no., Yards 7-49 2-15
Fumbles; number/lost 2-1 1-0
Time of Possession  38:48 35:12

Passing cmp att yds tds int
Taylor Martinez (208.18) 7 11 150 1 0
Jake Locker (46.32) 4 20 71 1 2
Neb Rushing No. yds tds long  
Taylor Martinez 19 137 3 80  
Roy Helu 10 110 2 65  
Rex Burkhead 13 104 1 24  
Cody Green 4 13 0 6  
Austin Jones 2 9 0 9  
Niles Paul 1 7 0 7  
D. Robinson 4 5 0 3  
Team 1 -2 0 0  
Washington Rushing No. yds tds long
Jake Locker 11 59 1 33  
Chris Polk 17 55 1 9  
Jesse Callier 10 57 0 23  
Cody Bruns 1 4 0 4  
NEB Pass Receiving No. yds tds long
Brandon Kinnie 5 105 0 55  
Mike McNeill 1 24 1 24  
Paul Niles 1 21 0 21  
Washington Pass Rec. No. yds tds long
Devin Aguilar 1 10 0 10  
Jermaine Kearse 2 51 1 45  
Marlion Barnett 1 10 0 10  
  No. yds avg long tb
Alex Henery 5 236 47.2 62 1
Kiel Rasp 9 438 48.7 59 0
Attendance: 72,876          

Richard Linde, aka Malamute can be reached at malamute@4malamute.com

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