Washington Huskies upset USC - 16-13 (last 4 mins) 09/19/09. Amazing final drive upsets #3 USC at Washington.
Watch the above video. Probably one of the biggest upsets of the past decade - a Washington team coming off an 0-12 season knocking off #3 USC. On the winning drive, Jake slings two in-the-pocket NFL-quality throws and then one Jake Locker throw - pocket collapses up the middle in seconds, he sprints right and nails Kearse 25 yards downfield before getting shoved to the turf. That's what you have to look forward to.
You're going to hear plenty about what a great guy he is - and it's warranted - but something that gets lost in the shuffle [maybe because he's an All-American white kid from a small town that may as well piss milk and emanate courage] is that he's a freak athlete. I don't know if I can stress this enough. You're getting someone with the body and athleticism of young Donovan McNabb. Quoth Jerry Brewer:
Locker ran a 4.59 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine, and he seems to play faster than that in actual games. But he's not all about speed. He's a strong and powerful quarterback. He won't be doing this in the NFL if he knows what's good for him, but he ran over linebackers and safeties in college. Elite NFL pass rushers could have a difficult time taking him down because of his strength and elusiveness. In that sense, it's kind of like trying to tackle a guy with traces of Ben Roethlisberger's strength and Michael Vick's elusiveness.
Locker slimmed down from the 2008 debacle season, too. He was walking around at 235 per this article, an interesting piece from a local mag before the season from hell. He's a big, strong dude who played really smart with the running-over-people aspect of his game while playing hurt last year. He's still got some Sweetness in him, but he's much better at sliding than he was freshman year. Durability shouldn't be a concern. Stubbornness might be - he came back into the Holiday Bowl really quickly after taking a gnarly hit.
Ivan Maisel was nice enough to recap Washington’s transformation from plucky scrubs to a team that might contend without Locker. Not required reading for you folks but does speak to how low on ammunition the Huskies were everywhere but the skill positions. Here’s the relevant graf:
Washington hadn’t started 3-6 by accident. Last season, the Huskies had so little talent that Sarkisian abandoned the passing game between the hash marks because he had neither a tight end nor a fullback whom he trusted. Opposing defenses knew that Jake Locker would throw only to his wideouts. Special teams suffered from an abundance of freshmen.
This clip from Gruden’s QB camp gimmick sitdown thing where Jake sees man coverage on Jermaine Kearse on a go route, realizes there’ll be a free blitzer, refuses to go to a hot route, gets set and wings a 35-yards-in-the-air-TD under pressure anyway is probably as impressive as anything I linked or could say.
Gruden: Here they [Oregon State] come after you again [in] empty with the blitz – I guess you guys don’t have hots, huh?
Sarkisian: *senses a disturbance in the Force, grimaces from miles away*
Locker: If I felt like I needed an hot outlet up here, I could signal hot. But Coach said if you feel like he’s coming from depth and you feel like you can retreat and get the ball off to the corner, do it.
Gruden: You know what he’s saying, basically? If we have Jake Locker, and we got three guys beating down on your ass, you can just throw a fadeaway six. That’s a huge big-time throw right there, you understand? That’s big time.
‘If we have Jake Locker, and we got three guys beating down on your ass, you can just throw a fadeaway six’ might as well have been the team motto most of the last two years. When he managed to do that we were pretty competitive.
As far as taking him at #8 and the subsequent flak - this was Bizarro Draft because no one could trade players so QB price got really inflated - as you may have noticed. With 3 other teams picking QBs in the first 12, Locker most definitely would not have been there mid-first. Pretty sure the Vikings would have picked him over Ponder, Redskins might've picked him too.
Not a value pick, necessarily, but a good one. Chris Johnson is going to be a monster next year with Locker running bootlegs off stretch plays. I don't know what Munchak and Palmer do offensively but they should run that 10 times a game.
Remember, this was a dude the draft morons called a No.1 pick after his junior year in a draft that had Ndamukong Suh and Bradford, etc. in it. All he did was get injured and play another season in a pro-style offense.
He's gonna be good. Let yourselves enjoy it.
Originally published as a FanPost at Music City Miracles.