Sept. 5, 2007
Pretty much all aspects of Washington's 42-12 romp over the Orange on Friday night were "very good."
"It was really exciting more than anything to be back out there and playing again," said Locker, a redshirt freshman who was playing in his first game since high school. "It had been so long that it was even more exciting to get out there and play."
Locker's debut did nothing to dispel his billing as one of the most talented recruits to play for Washington in years. He completed 14 of 19 passes, ran for another 84 yards and a pair of touchdowns and directed the Huskies' offense on five touchdown drives of 70 yards or longer.
After the game, Willingham hesitated at lauding Locker, saying his performance was so-so. He was a little more effusive on Monday after reviewing film of the game.
When asked why, Willingham said, "I just had to look at it."
Along with Locker's stellar first start, the game featured a career-high 147 yards rushing from senior running back Louis Rankin. He benefited from the Syracuse defenders' focus on Locker and a strong game from the Huskies' offensive line.
"I can't think of a game where there's been that much room since I've been here," Rankin said. "They did a good job blocking, and when they do that it makes my job a lot easier."
The victory gave the Huskies consecutive season-opening wins for the first time since 2000 and 2001. That might seem a mundane statistic, but getting this opener was a must for Washington, which now faces a lineup of ranked teams beginning Saturday when No. 24 Boise State comes to Husky Stadium.
After the Broncos' visit, then comes No. 11 Ohio State, followed by a game at No. 14 UCLA and the closing out the month of September when the Huskies host No. 1 Southern Cal.
"We've got another one of those unbelievable foes," Willingham said of the Broncos. "We seem to have a lot of them on the schedule."
While the Huskies were starting to plan for the mountain of different formations, looks and potential trick plays the Broncos might use, they were also still relishing a complete domination of Syracuse.
The 30-point margin of victory was the Huskies' largest since a 42-10 rout of Oregon during the 2003 season. Washington topped 300 yards rushing for the first time since the 2006 season opener -- a 35-29 win over San Jose State -- but for just the third time since the end of the 2000 season. The Huskies' six rushing touchdowns are half their total from the entire 2006 season.
Defensively, the Huskies' young secondary passed the first test. Starting freshman cornerback Vonzell McDowell and freshman safety Nate Williams both played well, helped by an unrelenting Washington pass rush that recorded seven sacks -- the most since the 2005 season.
"We were really aggressive and just tried to disrupt everything they did," said defensive end Greyson Gunheim, who had two of the seven sacks. "Everyone was really happy with how we were in the backfield and being aggressive." ^Notes: FB Luke Kravitz will miss the game against Boise State after suffering a hand injury against Syracuse. Willingham said it hasn't been determined if Kravitz will need surgery. ... CB Byron Davenport, who has battled a hamstring injury during preseason camp, has improved and could play against Boise State. He is listed second on the depth chart. ... Boise State has sold out its allotment of 6,000 tickets for Saturday's game and it's likely the Huskies will have their first crowd of 70,000 or more since the 2005 Apple Cup.