There was nothing to play for but pride for Steve Sarkisian’s Washington Huskies this Saturday. That was enough for his young team as they took it to the California Golden Bears 42-10.
The game was over as soon as it started as the Huskies outscored the Bears every quarter.
Jake Locker had a superb day passing for 248 yards and three touchdowns. He threw zero interceptions and completed 82 percent of his passes, showing why he is such a sought after Quarterback in the upcoming draft.
Jake also added 77 yards and the ground and two more touchdowns on 14 carries.
Polk rushed for nearly a hundred yards again showing his consistency, and receiver Jermaine Kearse had a dominating game with seven catches for 147 yards. The defense only yielded 296 yards.
Basically this was the team we had hoped to see all season.
This was a fitting end to a rocky rookie season for Coach Sarkisian. The start of the season showed such promise, but by the middle of the season it seemed as if this young team had hit a wall.
It is a credit to the coaching staff, and the players, that they were able to pull themselves together after a blow out against Oregon State, and dominate their last two opponents.
While dominating Washington State doesn’t grab anyone’s attention, defeating Cal in such a manner should.
Jake Locker, whom had struggled so much with hesitating in taking the open field ahead of him for most of the year, seemed to play as free as he ever has. The performance was so encouraging because he showed his increased accuracy, pocket awareness, and willingness to use his athletic ability to buy more time to find the open receiver.
Unlike in last games, however, he didn’t seem blinded to the open running lanes ahead of him.
Part of the credit for this has to go to Sarkisian and his staff. While there has been much unrest as of late about exactly how much Locker has progressed, if Jake has shown anything it is his willingness to be coached.
Sarkisian called a couple of designed runs to get him into the rhythm of running, and it paid dividends as Jake put all of it together today. He looked like the complete quarterback we have insisted he could be for three plus years now, and why he is a top prospect for the NFL.
It also shows why coming back another year would be beneficial for Jake. He was able to put it all together today, but he has not been able to do it consistently. If he returns to Washington for his senior year, is there any doubt we will see a LOT more of the Jake Locker we saw today?
We would, and it would be great. The NFL would also be getting a much more polished Jake Locker.
There is the argument that he might be giving up big money by passing up the draft this year, but in terms of long-term outlook, it can be argued that by staying another year and coming in a more starter ready quarterback, his second contract could make up for the lost money this year.
No matter which he chooses Locker has a bright future ahead of him, and Husky fans should understand either way. But, the future sure does look bright if he returns next year.
Like Locker, the rest of the offense showed that they are starting to ‘get it’ now. While we all hoped it would happen right away, with such a young team it is going to take time. The young wide receiving core has shown potential all year, and today just reinforces that notion.
The same can be said for the running game. Polk, the first freshman in UW history to rush for over 1000 yards, will be a pivotal playmaker next year, even more so if Locker does not return.
A big concern going into the offseason is going to be the defense, while a lot of the team is very young; the defensive is going to lose their major leaders from this season. They did show improvement all season, and had an excellent game against the Bears to close out the season on a positive note. Despite the losses of players like Donald Butler and Daniel Teo-Nesheim, the defense should continue to show improvement going into 2010.
Today was a big step for Steve Sarkisian and his young Washington Huskies. Both the coaching staff and players went through growing pains this season, but finishing on such a strong note gives a lift in confidence going into the offseason. Both have shown they are learning and growing, and that we have good reason to be excited going into next season as Washington continues to grow.
There is a world of difference between 5-7 and 4-8, even if it is just psychological, and by finishing with an improvement of five wins in year one, there should be no debate Sarkisian’s first effort foreshadows greater things for the Huskies.There is still a ton of work to be done, but for the first time in years it looks like we are headed back to where Washington belongs.
2010 will be the turnaround season we have been anxiously awaiting.