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Sounding off
Malamute, 5 February 2011

From Main I Spring to Broadway and up the Hill to Olive. Oh how Grand it is to Hope to find a Flower on Figueroa. (*)

In this year's recruiting war, the UW coaches put a fence around the state of Washington with a sign affixed to the front gate that reads, "no-poaching, rabid-dawg-inside." This is especially commendable considering the widespread interest sparked by WR Kasen Williams, TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins, and DL Danny Shelton, all of whom signed with the Huskies.

In our recruiting article, we gave the coaching staff a 3.25 grade point average for their ten positional units of endeavor, which is slightly less than a B-plus. Nice job, guys.

But ...

Bringing in just two offensive linemen was the most disappointing part of your class, particularly losing 4-star lineman Paulay Asiata to Colorado on signing day. As a not so gentle reminder, Asiata is sure to show up on Colorado's offensive line on October 15, when the Dawgs play the Buffs.

So what?

The offensive line is the most important positional unit on the team, former coach Tyrone Willingham told us alums and fans at a banquet (Dawg Days in the Desert) some time ago.

I know Steve Sarkisian signed seven offensive linemen last year, and according to an insider story on dawgman.com, the staff is trucking in two offensive linemen as walk-ons, presumably looking for another Dan Kanczugowski (6-foot-4, 325). (#)

But quality counts as much as quantity, so I'm told. Note that Washington's four main adversaries (USC, Oregon, Cal, and Stanford) in this year's recruiting war signed at least one or more 4-star recruits to the offensive line, with USC inking two and Oregon three. 

So, miffing on Asiata was a blow to the gut.

Also, unlike other schools in the conference, Washington must build its offensive line from scratch because of the strict entrance requirements that make it difficult to enroll Junior College transfers. It's not like Sark can wear a mage's hat, wave a magic wand, and wait for a Stone Golem to show up. For example, WSU is rebuilding its OL with three JC transfers, among other positions on the team.

Sark needs to float a barge full of offensive linemen down the Montlake Cut next February with at least two of his Boatswains rated four stars or more.

I'm counting on it.

The Locker watch:

The following is my response to those who allege Jake Locker has a problem with his accuracy.

Jake Locker set a school record for total touchdowns (accounted for) with 82 -- 53 passing and 29 rushing. He holds the school record for career rushing yards by a quarterback (1,856) and the single season record (986, 2007). Locker is second to Cody Pickett in career passing yards (7,583; 2007-2010).

In his last 14 games as a starter, which date back to WSU and Cal in 2009, Locker went 9-5 overall and 7-3 in the Pac-10. Throw out the two Nebraska games and Locker has a pass-completion percentage of 60.52% for the other 12 encounters. And this without a tight end to dump it off to and having to play behind six different incarnations of an injury-illness-plagued offensive line. The Blackshirts, who finished third in the FBS in pass efficiency defense, smothered the Huskies' receivers, forcing Locker to throw the ball away on a number of occasions.

In his last two seasons, Locker raised his career passing efficiency from 104.68 (under former coach Tyrone Willingham) to 118.95 (under coach Steve Sarkisian). Under Sarkisian, Locker completed 57% of his passes in his 24 starts, with a pass-efficiency rating of 127.22.

Locker had a most respectable passing-efficiency rating of 142.32 in the Senior Bowl, the best rating of the three quarterbacks playing for the North; a defensive pass interference penalty robbed him of a sure touchdown pass. He completed 60% of his passes on the game.

In the 2011 All-Star Football Challenge, Locker and WR Austin Pettis of Boise State won the quarterback/receiver competition, which was a measure of accuracy and delivery as far as the quarterback was concerned. Locker and Pettis beat out the quarterback/receiver combinations of Ryan Mallett (Arkansas) and Torrey Smith (Maryland), second, and the combination of Andy Dalton (TCU) and Jordan Todman (Connecticut), which finished third.

Mike Shanahan

When people question Locker's accuracy, it is his accuracy from the pocket. He's as accurate as any quarterback in this draft throwing on the move, so says Mike Shanahan of the Washington Redskins. "He can do some things outside the pocket that most quarterbacks can't do."

NFL Combine, Indianapolis, Sunday, 2/27/2011

"On Sunday, Jake Locker shined in the three-cone drill, edging Tyrod Taylor and putting up the fastest time by a quarterback this year. Locker had already run a sub-4.6 40 and a top broad jump measurement, but it was the three-cone drill where he came through in a big way. In it, he put a fair amount of distance between himself and Cam Newton, beating out the other top quarterback prospects with ease." -- Brian Floyd, at NFL combine.

"Jake Locker came out and ran a blazing fast 40-yard dash on Sunday at the NFL Combine, but he also put together a complete performance in front of the scouts in attendance. Locker, like most of the top quarterback prospects at the combine, went through throwing drills at Lucas Oil Stadium, throwing the route tree to a variety of different receivers. One of those wide receivers, A.J. Green of Georgia, may just be the top prospect in the 2011 NFL Draft.

"Green had high praise for Locker after the workouts in an interview with NFL Network. Locker said he felt he did well in the workout, but Green had higher praise. Asked to single out a quarterback in his group, which included Locker and Ryan Mallett, Green was quick to point out Locker helped himself and threw the ball well. In fact, he said Locker has shown marked improvement and put on a show in front of the scouts on Sunday." Brian Floyd.

"QB, Washington: Locker had a phenomenal workout Sunday. His work in the agility drills showcased his athleticism, as he finished the day among the top performers in the 40-yard dash, vertical jump, broad jump and three-cone drill for QBs. While most expected him to shine in those exercises, Locker was surprisingly one of the standouts in throwing drills. He showed accuracy and touch, while his footwork looked vastly improved from his erratic performance at the Senior Bowl. He set up with better quickness and body control at the top of his drops, which resulted in more consistent and accurate throws. He threw the speed out with excellent timing and zip to both sides. His touch on the post corner and go-route were also impressive. Although his workout must be kept in perspective given his accuracy issues throughout his career, his rapid improvement from the Senior Bowl will force scouts to evaluate if he is worthy of going in the first round." -- Bucky Brooks, NFL.com



That's OL Cody Habben pictured above. He's graduated.

(*) How to remember the downtown streets in Los Angeles.

(#) Somewhere over on dawgman.com there is a great insider story written by Scott Ekland, the subject of which details the Huskies' woes on the offensive line over the last 10 years.


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

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