Nov. 1, 2010
by Gregg Bell
UW Director of Writing
SEATTLE - An already tough task just got even more difficult for the Huskies.
Washington will be without Jake Locker on Saturday at top-ranked Oregon. The star quarterback's sore rib became broken in last weekend's loss to Stanford.
"It's frustrating anytime you're not able to be out on the field with your guys, but it's the best thing for me and for my health," Locker said on Monday, one day after the Huskies' medical staff told him he had a fracture and will watch instead of play this week.
"I asked if there was any possible way that I could (play). They said there's just too much risk involved in it now."
Sarkisian hopes Locker, second on UW's career passing list, can heal enough by Nov. 18 so he can start his final career home game, against UCLA.
For local comparison, Seattle Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck missed two games last year with broken ribs. Doctors told Hasselbeck that fractured ribs can take up to six weeks to fully heal.
At least Locker has just one broken rib. Still, Sarkisian said the team's co-captain, who has made 36 career starts since his debut as a redshirt freshman at the beginning of the 2007 season, was "shaken up" when he was told he can't play at Oregon.
"As you guys know, Jake is a courageous guy, a competitive guy, extremely loyal," Sarkisian said. "The thing that bothers him the most is that he feels like maybe he's letting his teammates down. And his team, they don't feel that way at all about it."
Nick Montana is listed as the No. 2 quarterback this week, but Sarkisian reiterated he'd rather keep the prized freshman out as part of the continuing plan to redshirt Montana's first season at UW.
"We'll have (wide receiver) Cody Bruns and (freshman tailback and recent Wildcat-formation QB) Jesse Callier ready in an emergency quarterback situation," Sarkisian said. "If it is something that's potentially a long-term issue - we're not foreseeing that - Nick will be ready."
The Huskies remain optimistic Locker can start the final three games of the regular season.
"It's fortunate that we're following this week with a bye week to give us a little extra time off," Locker said.
Locker first injured a rib on a hit early in Oct. 16's win over Oregon State, but he remained in that game and started the two since. Sarkisian said an eventual MRI exam revealed a hairline fracture, though in practice last week Locker was moving as well as he had all October. But then it became a break when Locker was hit sometime in the loss to the Cardinal on Saturday at Husky Stadium.
"(He) took a couple pretty good shots. That kind of escalated this thing to a whole another level for us," Sarkisian said. "It's unfortunate. I know Jake wants to be out there in the worst way, but this is the right thing to do."
Sarkisian found one thin silver lining to the injury: He noted Price has run the first-team offense in practice for much of the last three weeks while Locker rested, so the starting role won't be entirely foreign to him.
The 6-foot-1, 192-pound Price finished the final quarter of the Stanford game. His season highlight so far came on Oct. 2 at USC. Price, from Compton, Calif., replaced the momentarily injured Locker and threw a key touchdown pass on his only scrimmage play in the fourth quarter of what became Washington's first road win in three years.
"Making his first career start obviously on the road in an environment like Autzen is a challenging one -- but one I've been in before with Mark Sanchez making his first career road start in Autzen Stadium in a tough ball game," said Sarkisian, Sanchez's offensive coordinator at USC when the Trojans played at Oregon in 2007.