We are officially less than a month away from the start of Husky football with the game at BYU on September 4th. The excitement is thick, suffocating us all. Not just because we’re coming off of a 5-game improvement from ’08 to ’09; not just because the Pac-10 seems to be wide open with USC’s sanctions, Oregon’s offseason quarterback issues, and everyone else’s understandable question marks; but because we’re returning almost everyone of value from last season. Let’s face it, no one aspires to a 5-7 record, but last year’s team was probably the most satisfying 5-win team I’ve ever seen.
We started the year giving LSU one of its toughest games as a team who finished #17. We beat USC in a 16-13 grudge match to let everyone know that Steve Sarkisian is for real as a head coach. We beat Arizona in one of the most dramatic finishes in school history, and lost a few other heartbreakers (Notre Dame, ASU, UCLA) that – had they ended differently – might have given us our first bowl appearance since 2002. We ended the season just crushing the shit out of the Cougars 30-0 and the Cal Bears 42-10 to not only go out on a 2-game winning streak, but a 2-game winning streak that’s built momentum and excitement towards this season.
Of course, all of that would’ve been lost had Jake Locker decided to go pro or play baseball. Some of the most anxious anticipation Husky fans have ever experienced. Thank the high holy hell that he’s coming back for his senior season. He and he pretty much alone will determine whether we get off the bowl game schnide (though, it’ll take the combined super-human efforts of everyone else on the team if we’re actually to win the whole fuckin’ thing … Pac-10 that is).
Locker kinda got me to thinking. Sark is talking about Locker having a 65-68 completion percentage, which would be insane and practically unheard of in Husky Football History, as Condotta breaks down here. Also, a 3-1 TD to INT ratio, which would be pretty huge. This, if it happened, would be one of – if not THE – greatest seasons ever for the purple & gold.
Now, I’m not exactly a longstanding fan of the Huskies; my love affair started pretty much when I enrolled in the fall of 1999. Since then, I’ve witnessed a handful of quarterbacks come through here. The best, statistically speaking, would be Cody Pickett who played 3 years and racked up some insane passing numbers thanks to Reggie Williams and a supurb supporting cast of ball-catchers. We moved the ball pretty effectively from 2001 through 2003, but we didn’t exactly set the world on fire (and it was all downhill from there as dregs like Casey Paus, Isaiah Stanback, and Ronnie Fouch proceeded to set the world on ice with their incompetency). The Pickett years were winning years, sure, but nothing all that memorable.
The best season I’ve ever seen by a quarterback was in 2000 with Marques Tuiasosopo. Granted, his completion percentage was a speck under 54, and he had a 15-11 TD to INT ratio, but he just won games plain and simple. No one I’ve witnessed since has come close. Late in the 4th quarter, down by a touchdown or less, there’s no one else I would’ve rather given the ball to than Tui. He had that special blend of confidence, talent, toughness, desire, and a complete unwillingness to give up in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds (see: the game against Stanford with 53 seconds left and the subsequent 3 plays that gave us a touchdown to win it).
In Jake Locker, we just might have that again. He’s got the confidence; after all, he was drafted and signed by the Anaheim Angels! He’s certainly got the talent; what with his ability to throw the ball a country mile. He’s got the toughness; what with his running ability and willingness to take the extra hit to gain the extra yard. He’s got the desire; because if he didn’t, he would’ve taken those NFL dollars and walked. And I think his unwillingness to give up will ultimately turn those close heartbreaking losses of last season into close, lose-your-mind victories in 2010.
With Tui, we had a leader and a champion. With Locker, we’ve got both of those, but on overdrive. He’s got all of Tui’s running ability, though arguably he’s faster, stronger, and shiftier. Plus, Locker has a stronger arm, a pro-style offense with a year’s experience, and some downfield targets to make good on the promise of 65+ completion percentage. Jake Locker is Ivan Drago to Tui’s Rocky. Except, this is real life, where Ivan Drago remains an unstoppable killing machine against a field of teams without an answer to his mastery.
Load the box, defend against Locker’s running ability; he’ll carve you out in the 15-20 yards downfield range. Stay back, guard against the deep threat; he’ll pound it down your throat 5 yards at a time. Maintain gap assignments with a Dime defense; he’ll slaughter you with short passes in the middle of the field until we’ve chewed through 40 minutes of clock.
The only way Locker will be stopped is if he’s injured. Failing that, I think everything Sark’s predicting can easily come true and then some. Skeptics question the validity of all this Heisman talk. I think as long as the wins come, it’ll be because of Locker. As long as the wins come, it’ll be Locker’s trophy to win hands down. At minimum, we’ll have to win 8 games. But, I think we can do better. Like I said, the better we do in conference will ultimately be up to everyone else. But, it’s Locker who’s got our foot in the door of this conversation.
Now, it’s time to put up the best quarterbacking season in school history and see just how good this team can really be.