Washington Football: How Jake Locker Stays In Heisman Contention
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Before the season began the media anointed Jake Locker was the consensus 2011 1st round NFL draft choice, and a Heisman candidate. Under the weight of that, and the raised expectations for the Huskies, there was a tremendous amount of pressure on Locker to perform. With that in mind, which of the following stat line applies to the dual-threat quarterback for Washington??
29/52 480yds, 4 TD 0 int; 28/130 1 TD Rushing
43/62 430 2 TD; 57/455 3 TD
42/70 555 yds. 5 TD 0 int; 16/41 1 TD
In these stats, all three quarterbacks have amassed over 600 yards of offense, and one of them is over 800. However, it might surprise you to see that the third one is actually Jake Locker, and the first one is Terrelle Pryor. The middle one is Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson who exploded on the scene with over 500 yards of total offense against Notre Dame*.
Given the heavy passing load, and minimal amount of rushing to date - is Sarkisian's offense, or Locker's execution of it, Locker really hurting his chances at the Heisman? Clearly wins are more important to Montlake, but Jake's legs really haven't come into play this year at all.
How to get Locker's Heisman Stock to move up
While the statistical comparison above is one dimension, the most critical thing for Locker's Heisman drive is wins. Each of the other quarterback's above have two wins, and neither of them faces a tough game for almost a month (UM vs MSU; OSU vs UWisc). The Dawgs are facing Nebraska this week, and a depleted, but still tough USC team the week after. So, Locker must either win both of those - or play fantastic and be competitive in the losses. Getting good statistics against those defenses will be difficult.
Statistically speaking Locker must continue to play well to stay in the same conversation as Pryor and Robinson. However, pocket passers like Barkley or Jacory Harris will continue to rack up yards (although continued interceptions will hurt Harris' chances). Several of the other quarterback Heisman candidates have powder puff schedules for a few weeks, while Locker has some touch challenges.
In both of the games this year, Locker has overthrown a few open receivers. Granted, every quarterback does that periodically, Jake has missed a few passes while in the pocket and not under much pressure. The interesting thing is that his accuracy appears to improve when he's rolling out or running for his life. In order to increase his completion percentage - which drives yardage, he just needs to cut the 5-6 open passes he misses per game down to two or three would take his accuracy from around 60% to nearly 70%. Again - voters like great statistics.
While Heisman voters don't always mention the intangibles, but it's a key part of the discussion: Does Jake Locker make those around him better? Several of the Husky players - Kearse, Polk, and Aguilar among others - would be starters on other teams, and rack up good stats. But does Jake bring them to a higher level?
As it stands now, in order for Jake to remain in the Heisman discussion, he needs to address the above areas. The next two weeks will be very telling for his candidacy, as well as the Dawg's season. Taking a winless team to a bowl game would be a great feather in Jake's cap to bring to New York. The above four areas - with the key one being wins - are the buttons he needs to push for another icon for the Huskies trophy case.
* - Dawg fans may remember Marques Tuiasosopo's record setting 500 yard day against Stanford - but he was the first to break 300 in passing and 200 in rushing. Denard was more evenly split, and hence didn't break the record.
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