BY Todd Dybas 07:59AM 09/07/2010

Sarkisian: ‘I’ve seen Jake Locker play better’

Jake Locker is under even more scrutiny following a tepid performance in the season opener against BYU.

Washington quarterback Jake Locker was 20-for-37 in the first game of the season. (Drew Seller/Sports Press Northwest)

Figure last Saturday isn’t going to make it onto the would-be Heisman highlight reel.

There were flashes (rifle throws down the middle to Jermaine Kearse) and dashes (turning the corner then zipping inside the pylon for a touchdown) on Saturday for Washington quarterback Jake Locker. Just not enough.

Locker had trouble running, finishing with 11 carries for 29 yards. BYU’s 3-4 defense horseshoed Locker with hanging linebackers on the edges and waiting linemen in front of him. Call it the Levi Strauss. Locker was sewn in most of the day.

“They sat there and waited for Jake,” Washington head coach Steve Sarkisian said.

Locker chunked throws in the week leading up to the game. On Saturday, he looked the way he had in practice. He’s like a dunker trying to turn into a shooter. The refinement process is ongoing.

Locker fessed up on Monday to heading in the wrong direction during a crucial 3rd-and-5 on the final drive. Locker was stuffed for a loss of two. That led to 4th-and-7 for Washington, its final offensive play of the game.

“We didn’t get the right call, we were on different pages and it cost us,” Locker said. “It was on me. It was my fault.”

Locker ran right on the play, smack into an unblocked defensive end. The end was unblocked because Washington pulled to the left. Pulling guard Gregory Christine ran through a hole all by himself and turned around stunned to see Locker tackled in the backfield.

Was it a disaster? No. Does it need to be better? Yes.

Locker will see that style of defense again this year, particularly in the Pac-10. He needs to stay in the pocket and take the longview. No matter the issues on the Washington offensive line, and there are enough that Sarkisian bumped a couple true freshmen into the depth chart this week, Locker will have time against a three-man rush.

Let’s take a closer look. He had 17 incompletions. Here’s the breakdown of them:

1st: Incomplete because of route confusion.

2nd: Kearse drop.

3rd: Screen is snuffed out, thrown away on purpose.

4th: Too far to an open Kearse.

5th: Bad throw to Johri Fogerson in the flat.

6th: Thown away on purpose.

7th: Spike to stop the clock.

8th: Thrown away.

9th: Another route miscommunication, but he also missed a wide open Cody Bruns on the opposite side.

10th: Pass broken up.

11th: Incomplete.

12th: Broken up, but the throw could have been better.

13th: Tough but off target throw to Kearse in the end zone on fourth down.

14th: High to D’Andre Goodwin.

15th: Another bad throw and confusion with receivers.

16th: Thrown high.

17th: Throw hits defensive tackle’s helmet (final offensive play).

Add them together and pin nine incompletions directly on Locker as poor throws or incorrect decisions. This would move him to 20-for-29 on the day.

But remember two beautiful throws down the middle to Kearse and the touchdown to Kearse. An out route to Aguilar and a laser across the field to Bruns.

“I thought he was good,” Sarkisian said. “I’ve seen Jake Locker play better and he will play better. I thought his play was maybe a little bit of a microcosm of how our overall offense played. There was big/little.

“There were some great plays. But the overall consistency of our game as a team and his game, we’ve got to raise that level.”

On to next week.


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