Jake Locker's Importance to Washington's Future

Tim SeemanAnalyst ISeptember 10, 2009

SEATTLE - SEPTEMBER 13:  Quarterback Jake Locker #10 of the Washington Huskies during the game against the Oklahoma Sooners on September 13, 2008 at Husky Stadium in Seattle, Washington. The Sooners defeated the Huskies 55-14.(Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

College football.

The only place where a winless team from one year can find an opponent the next year that will make the winless team a 21-point favorite.

Before last weekend, that betting line would've been downright outrageous.  

Following Washington's strong display against Louisiana State makes it only slightly ridiculous.  Either way, it looks like the Huskies are going to break that 15-game losing streak it's been riding since the end of 2007.

It's just that this win is going to have to come with an asterisk.

The Idaho Vandals are one of the few teams that have been worse than the Huskies the past three seasons, and it's been just barely.  The Vandals are 10-38 since 2005; the Huskies are 11-38 in that time.

As it stands now, it looks like the Huskies should win this game easily, so I want to talk a little bit more about Washington quarterback Jake Locker and his impact on his team.

Locker will likely have a field day against Idaho's defense, both throwing and running the ball.  

Last weekend against a historically strong LSU defense, Locker threw for 321 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 51.  Combined, the Huskies racked up 157 yards on the ground.

They currently rank 32nd in the nation in total offense.  Last year, they finished 117th behind such powerhouses as Wyoming, San Jose State, Southern Methodist and Louisiana-Monroe.

Obviously, Locker is a huge factor in this.  

He's not a dropback-and-pass kind of quarterback.  He's one of these dual threats that litter the college football landscape, and that's what makes him so dangerous; he can beat you with his arm or he can beat you with his mobility.

In fact, he's more of a threat running the ball than he is throwing it.  

In his freshman year in 2007, he ran for 13 touchdowns and nearly 1,000 yards.  He had 14 touchdown passes and 2,062 yards that same season.

These are the kind of numbers Locker will have to have this season for the program to start winning somewhat consistently again.  In order to do this, he will have to stay healthy, which is something he had trouble with in his first two seasons in Seattle.

He only missed one game in 2007 (which, ironically, was the last game the Huskies won), but in 2008, he played in only four games, injuring himself in the fourth against Stanford and missing the rest of the season.

This CAN'T happen this season or the next if the University of Washington wants to rebuild its football program.  Winning is how you get into bowl games and playing in bowl games is how you attract top-tier high school football players.

It's simple: If Locker doesn't play, Washington doesn't win.  

If Washington doesn't win, Washington can't recruit.

If Washington can't recruit...well, they'll continue to be the 11-38 program that fans in Seattle have been watching for the past four years.