Plenty was revisited last week as the University of Washington practiced four days during its bye period.
Personnel groupings were evaluated. Live tackling was an emphasis since the Huskies seemingly couldn’t tackle Nebraska ball-handlers in the third game. Mechanics were reviewed, and flaws were fixed.
Senior Jake Locker, the team’s all-Pacific-10 Conference candidate, was no exception. And after watching footage of the Cornhuskers’ 56-21 victory in which Locker went 4-of-20 in passing, coaches noticed a footwork glitch.
And it was the way his feet operated – or did not function – regardless if it came against pressure or not.
Jake, he’s such a good athlete – (and) good athletes have a tendency, they want to almost bounce in that pocket because they feel good on their toes and moving,” UW coach Steve Sarkisian said. “When you’re a quarterback, you want two feet on the ground. You want to continually be on the ground when you reset.”
A common Locker misfire in the games at Brigham Young, and at home versus Syracuse and Nebraska was when he went downfield, his passes floated too high.
“You can see it in the film,” Locker said. “When I’m able to complete passes and get the ball where I want to, it was pretty fluid. I wasn’t hopping around as much. The one’s I had trouble on, I was kind of changing my eye level a lot and really bouncing around back there.”
Sarkisian noticed the habit to be frequent when Locker lined up in the shotgun.
“All quarterbacks do have a tendency to sometimes get a little lazy in their footwork in the (shotgun), and that can create that hopping mechanism, and get your feet not underneath you when they can be, especially if the pressure is not there,” Sarkisian said.
Sarkisian also noted equal an emphasis was making sure Locker staying comfortable in the team’s protection schemes, which had its share of breakdowns early on this season.
Other stuff Monday:
• After thorough examination from the bye week, Sarkisian said true freshman Erik Kohler will remain the starting left guard in place of veteran Gregory Christine.
“He did a very good job for his first start against a tremendous defensive tackle last week. I thought there were some things in pass protection, now that he sees it on film, he’ll go, ‘Oh geez, that’s too easy, coach,’” Sarkisian said. “But that’s part of playing in your first ballgame as a true freshman lineman.”
Also, expect to see receiver James Johnson, a seven-game starter in 2009, to get more involved in the game plan after a slow recovery from a sprained ankle suffered during training camp.
“When you are playing receiver and you are limping and running and trying to get off bump and run coverage, it can be challenging,” Sarkisian said. “And I thought he really started to come on at the end of last week, and last night (at practice) he looked great.”
Fullback Zach Fogerson and receiver Kevin Smith should see more playing time as well.
• Linebacker Cort Dennison said he feels fine after getting 10 days off from suffering a concussion in practice leading up to the Nebraska game.
The actual sequence of events put a scare in him, however.
“Never had a concussion. I’m the kind of kid that remembers every play at practice. I just came back to the locker room, and I couldn’t remember a single play,” Dennison said. “We put a couple defenses in that day, and I couldn’t remember even what the defenses were called. And I just started throwing up everywhere. It was kind of scary.”
• The only real question mark, injury-wise, for the showdown Saturday at Southern California is running back Johri Fogerson (upper leg), who did practice Sunday night.
• What, no Chris Polk at the Monday press conference? After all, it was the UW’s talented running back who GUARANTEED (in his own special way, it was Quinton Richardsoon who actually came out and said it) a win last season over USC, and the Huskies came through, 16-13, in the final seconds.
“You can’t give him a microphone,” Huskies linebacker Mason Foster said. “He’s probably not going to guarantee anything this week. He’s probably grown up a little bit. Chris is Chris. You love his confidence. But I don’t feel there’s any guarantees.”
• Bye week Saturday?
Locker returned to Ferndale to watch his former high school team play Friday, then turned out for a youth game Saturday morning.
“The game was at 11 (a.m.), so I watched the little guys play and then I went home and watched some college football,” Locker said.
UW defensive tackle Cameron Elisara was supposed to take a boat ride with his father, Matt – except the motor went dead, and the two spent a couple hours Saturday trying to get it up and running, to no avail.
Finally, they decided to take a quick run at the Puyallup Fair, only to spend 31/2 hours in traffic going from Kirkland to Puyallup.
• Game time for the Arizona State game Oct. 9 is 7 p.m. at Husky Stadium.
** MONDAY PRACTICE UPDATE: Nothing too exciting here. All injured parties – receiver James Johnson (ankle), running back Johri Fogerson (upper leg) and linebacker Cort Dennison (head) – practiced fully. Johnson split times between the first- and second-string offenses. … True freshman Erik Kohler ran exclusively with the No. 1 offense at left guard. … Jake Locker was 5-of-7 for 68 yards during the team session against the No. 1 defense. … To get the team ready for the rowdy environment of the Los Angeles Coliseum, UW coach Steve Sarkisian had “Conquest” – USC’s fight song – blaring loudly throughout the 90-minute practice outdoors.