Tackling Jake Locker’s bid for resurgence

Jake Locker entered last season as nothing more than a gifted athlete with plenty of upside. By the end of September, he had attained national recognition and superstar status on a team with a no-name roster. With one victory over Pete Carroll’s Trojans, the faceless quarterback was catapulted into America’s living rooms. And as we sit just two days away from the rematch, Locker finds himself in a similar situation.

Since that meeting twelve months ago, Locker’s reputation has come full circle. He ended the 2009 season atop NFL draft boards, despite his team finishing a miserable 3-6 after the biggest victory of his young career. He began the current campaign noted as one of the best quarterbacks in the country, and easily the best in conference. But three games in, the wheels have fallen off the wagon, and his decision to return to Washington for his senior year appears to be as beneficial as it was for Jevan Snead.

Locker has completed 51 percent of his passes. He’s thrown for 6 touchdowns and just two interceptions. That’s good enough for a 127.1 passer rating, but the numbers, which give little evidence of a slumping quarterback, are more trifling, when you consider that Syracuse was the second weak week opponent.—Three cheers for the Big East!

The senior dominated the Orange, which fell victim to 4 of the 6 touchdowns thrown. No one will remember that game or care. Most memorable are the 4 completions on 20 attempts for a woeful total of 70 yards in the UW loss to Nebraka. In one fell swoop, the Huskers knocked him from his perch and back to where he started.

So what does it all mean for the Trojans, who have been using Jesse Scroggins to emulate Locker in practices? I’ve read of the so-called problems Locker will create for USC defenders. Some suggest taking a page from Nebraska on how to “contain” Seattle’s top dog. Others have gone as far as asking if Locker can repeat his ’09 performance on Saturday.—Let me start by saying, even though it’s being served by the spoonfuls, it isn’t mandatory to swallow the bullshit on your plate.

Pete Carroll’s Trojans were torched by both Oregon and Stanford. They were defeated but not burned by Jake Locker and his Huskies. I would more than welcome a repeat performance by the northwestern Demigod. Locker, as gifted as he may be, did not have a single passing touchdown in that game played last year. Possessing dual-threat ability, he also ran for -15 yards. In fact, with all the hype that surrounds Locker entering each game against USC, in the two prior meetings he hasn’t provided a single touchdown with his arm, and his legs have scampered for a grand total of 35 yards.

But those were the Trojans of yesterday, and USC has flipped the page to a new staff with new styles.  Locker is situated to use the Trojans as a springboard for a second time, as he faces the famed Monte Kiffin for a first.

Early season struggles aren’t exclusive to the Huskies and their quarterback.  USC, though 4-0, check in this week with a defense that ranks 113th in the nation defending the pass, which is blood in the water for a quarterback looking to restore his image.  Kiffin’s unit can make a statement of its own on Saturday, but it will require more discipline and better tackling than we’ve witnessed over the first three weeks.


~ by Anthony on September 29, 2010.

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