Oct. 20, 2010
By Gregg Bell
UW Director of Writing
SEATTLE - Jake Locker's beat up again. But his Huskies expect to have their indispensible quarterback this weekend - yet again.
Locker was a spectator for all but the very start of Wednesday's practice. Yet coach Steve Sarkisian expects the senior co-captain to make his 35th career start for Washington (3-3, 2-1 Pac-10) on Saturday night at No. 15 Arizona (5-1, 2-1).
"It's his whole body, more than anything," Sarkisian said after what he called a designed off day for Locker, given how battered he was from last weekend's double-overtime win against Oregon State. "He's pretty sore."
When asked if there was any danger Locker would miss Saturday's nationally televised game between second-place teams in the conference, Sarkisian shook his head.
"Nah, I think he'll play," the coach said after backup Keith Price did most of Wednesday's work.
Sarkisian then flashed a wry smile and deadpanned that even a less-than-full-strength Locker is good enough.
"Yeah, he's still a pretty good player."
Sarkisian is encouraged and confident now because of what he saw Locker do last week. He missed practice time because of a deep thigh bruise - then ran around like his usual healthy self while throwing for a school-record tying five touchdowns in beating the Beavers.
"There was something to last week being able to hold him out and him feeling fresh on Saturday. It's trying to go along those same lines (this week)," Sarkisian said. "But he's pretty sore. We're just trying to protect him that way.
"We will give him more (work Thursday), for sure."
The one thing that isn't hurting Locker right now: his four years of experience as Washington's starter.
"He's a fifth-year senior," Sarkisian said. "We're not running all these new plays. Game plans carry over for him. It's a little easier for him not being able to practice and perform well.
"It's a little bit different. He's kind of like an NFL veteran. ... Jake's got enough experience that he can stay mentally sharp even though he's not getting the physical reps."
Sarkisian is gaining hope that wide receiver Devin Aguilar will play some at Arizona. Aguilar, who has 18 catches and two touchdowns in four games, has missed the previous two games with a hip flexor.
Saturday could also be the return of guard Erik Kohler, though Sarkisian said any action the freshman sees would be limited. Kohler has missed the last two games because of lingering effects from having mononucleosis.
How tough is the 6-foot-5, 306-pounder that offensive line coach Dan Cozzetto thinks has the potential to be dominant in his UW career? The Huskies now believe he played the games against Nebraska and USC, two of the biggest and toughest defensive lines in the country, with mono.
At least Locker doesn't have that.
Kohler's freshman classmate, Colin Porter, will start for the second consecutive game at right guard on Washington's newly mixed line. Ryan Tolar will again move over from right to left guard, with recent center Drew Schaefer at right tackle and recent guard Greg Christine moving in at center. The only mainstay right now is left tackle Senio Kelemete.
The Huskies like Christine's smarts directing the line from the middle, the size with the current guards and the athleticism of the current tackles.
"We felt like it gave us the best five people on the field in the best situation," offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier said of the changes.