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Spectacular Debut
Montlake Jake lives up to advanced billing
Malamute, 1 September 2007

At long last, Washington redshirt freshman Jake Locker has made his debut at quarterback -- and it was nothing short of spectacular. It was the most anticipated debut of a Washington player since Hugh McElhenny in 1949; in the second game of the 1949 season, Hurrying Hugh  raced the opening kickoff back 97 yards for a touchdown against Minnesota on the road. His lightening gallop--a seminal run in Husky history--shocked the partisan crowd, electrified Husky fans and etched Seattle boldly onto the map.

Over the years, players have gotten bigger, stronger and faster.

Going back to that era of Husky football in a comparative anatomy mode, you might say that Locker has the legs of McElhenny, the arm of Don Heinrich and the hulking size of Arnie Weinmeister, all rolled up into a 19-year old quarterback.

I canít ever remember watching a first-time-out-of-the-box Husky quarterback looking any better than Locker -- with so much potential -- as he debuted for the Purple and Gold, and I have been a fan of Washington for longer than I care to remember. (Reference the names above).

Wisely, Willingham has kept Locker and his teammates under wraps since spring practice began by restricting the media's presence to just the first 25 minutes of practices. In the past, before Willingham came to Washington, the local media have proved to be nothing but trouble makers, bent on creating controversies that have proved distracting to the Washington football team. Our site has supported Willingham's blanket of secrecy since he came to Washington in December of 2004.  

His Purple cloud of anonymity paid off brilliantly in the surreal Orange atmosphere, the media in dismay.

Consider this setting: a weird, domed stadium with an inflated roof located 2200 miles away from home; a hostile crowd on hand; the eastern mafia, in the personage of an ESPN TV crew, that was ready to pounce on the Pac10 conference -- ESPN also had the Tennessee/Cal game in mind -- to champion its canard that says the SEC is college football's strongest conference, even though Syracuse is a Big East team. To them, the Pac-10 must prove itself each year; forget its many past accomplishments and the fact it has won more NCAA championships than any other conference.

(I will say this for the motley crew of broadcasters, their high definition TV broadcast and digital track gave me the feeling that I was at the game.)

The hostile setting didnít stop the young quarterback from displaying his wares, which were aided by an outstanding performance from his offensive line and, as a consequence, by running back Louis Rankin, who rushed 17 times for 142 yards. Once Locker established himself as a runner to be reckoned with, Rankin came to the fore.

Montlake Jake rushed for 83 yards and two touchdowns on 10 carries, and completed 14 of 19 passes for 142 yards. His passing efficiency was 136.46 on the night.

Locker is downright gifted and, on this night, he showed poise, a smooth delivery, a strong arm and a timely, crushing running style. For all of his poise, he could have been playing in the Senior Bowl or the East/West game. No, I wonít say heís ready for the Super Bowl; he has a lot to learn, this by his own admission.

He looks like Vince Young one of the announcers said after Locker outran a linebacker.

At a media gathering in Los Angeles last July, Arizona State coach Dennis Erickson said that Locker is the type of athlete that can turn a program around. You know, he could be right.

Now I can see why head coach Tyrone Willingham was so effusive in his praise for Locker when he met with UW alumni and boosters in Palm Springs last March. I thought that Tyrone had gone mad. As a coach with an immense amount of character, Willingham has the aura of a winner about him.

We need to temper our enthusiasm about this team and Locker, though.

Syracuse hasnít had a winning season since 2001; likewise, UWís last winning season was in 2002, long, long ago. In our preview of the two teams, both of them posted feckless numbers on our Six-stat comparator, with UW leading Syracuse 78.8 to 98.5. Last season, Stanford posted a 100.2 on that scale, as a comparative measure.

With these stats in mind, you could say this was the Stanford game all over again, with UW prevailing this time instead of losing 20-3. The Pac-10 media brigade predicted a last-place finish for Stanford in the 2007 conference race.

Next Saturday, Washington plays Boise State in a Jake-by-the-Lake setting at Husky Stadium. I look for UW to win.

Team 1 2 3 4 Total
UW 0 14 21 7 42
SU 3 3 0 6 12

Time Team How Player (s) Score
1st qtr        
10:59 SU FG Patrick Shadle, 42-yarder Su, 3-0
2nd qtr
13:32 UW TD Louis Rankin, 13-yard run, Ryan Perkins kick. UW, 7-3
2:48 UW TD Jake Locker, 1-yard run; Perkins kick UW, 14-3
:19 SU FG Shadle, 42 yarder UW, 14-6
3rd qtr
13:41 UW TD Rankin, 47-yard run. Perkins kick. UW, 21-6
10:38 UW TD Locker, 8-yard run; Perkins kick UW, 28-6
2:17 UW TD Rankin, 20-yard run; Perkins kick. UW, 35-6
4th qtr
6:59 SU TD Mike Williams 10-yard pass from Andrew Robinson; kick failed. UW, 35-12
1:13 UW TD Brandon Johnson 1-yard run; Perkins kick. UW, 42-12

Statistic UW SU
Total First Downs 23 13
  Rushing 16 3
  Passing 7 9
  Penalty 0 1
Total Net Yards 444 207
Net Yards Passing 142 199
Net Yards Rushing 302 8
Completions-att-int 15-21-0 20-32-0
Punts, yards, average 4-184;46.2 6-290;48.3
Times sacked (number, yards) 0-0 7-21
Kickoff Returns: number, yds, tds 4-73-0 7-205-0
Punt returns: number, yds, tds 0-0-0 2-20-0
Kickoff Yards 7-452 4-233
Interception returns: no., yds, tds 0-0-0 0-0-0
Penalties Yards 8-56 7-45
Fumbles: number/lost 0-0 2-1
Time of Possession  28:09 31:51

Passing cmp att yds tds int
Andrew Robinson 20 32 199 1 0
Carl Bonnell 1 2 0 0 0
Jake Locker 14 19 142 0 0
SU Rushing No. Yds tds long  
Derrell Smith 5 19 0 8  
C. Brinkley 6 11 0 5  
Jeremy Sellers 3 3 0 1  
Tony Fiametta 1 1 0 1  
Cam Dantley 1 -2 0 0  
Andrew Robinson 13 11 0 7  
Washington Rushing No. yds tds long
Louis Rankin 17 152 3 47  
Jake Locker 10 84 2 25  
D. Goodwin 1 31 0 31  
Brandon Johnson 5 20 0 10  
Paul Homer 3 9 0 5  
J. R. Hasty 1 6 0 6  
Curtis Shaw 4 6 0 2  
SU Pass Receiving No. yds tds long
Taj Smith 5 33 0 12
C. Brinkley 4 63 0 28  
Mike Williams 3 35 1 13  
Mike Owen 2 15 0 8  
J. Nesheiwat 1 15 0 15  
Rice Moss 1 13 0 13  
Lavar Lobdell 1 9 0 9  
Derrel Smith 1 9 0 9  
Jeemy Sellers 1 4 0 4  
Paul Chiara 1 3 0 3  
Washington Pass Rec. No. yds tds long
Anthony Russo 4 49 0 30  
Marcel Reece 4 50 0 18  
Robert Lewis 2 26 0 13  
Louis Rankin 2 10 0 6  
Corey Williams 2 7 0 7  
Punting punts yds long Avg
Rob Long 4 178 52 44.5
John Barker 2 112 65 56  
Jared Ballman 4 185 52 46.2  
Attendance: 40,329          

Richard Linde (a.k.a., Malamute) can be reached at malamute@4malamute.com

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