Nov. 6, 2009
By TIM BOOTH
AP SPORTS WRITER
SEATTLE -- Washington quarterback Jake Locker will start Saturday when the Huskies try to break their 10-game road losing streak at UCLA, despite a deep thigh bruise that limited him the last two weeks.
After having his activity held back in practice early this week, coach Steve Sarkisian took the reins off his quarterback Thursday to test and see how his right thigh injury would respond. Locker passed.
"I wanted to see him run full speed. I wanted to see him really open up and go full speed, and he was able to do that," Sarkisian said.
Asked if the Huskies' playcalling would be handcuffed in any way, Sarkisian said, "We won't hold back."
Locker was injured in the first quarter of Washington's 43-19 loss to Oregon on Oct. 24. On a third-and-2 run at the Oregon 12 midway through the first quarter, Locker kept for 3 yards before taking a hard hit from the Ducks' Javes Lewis. From there, Locker's leg became progressively stiffer and he was noticeably limping in the final minutes of the blowout.
At first, Sarkisian said Locker was cramping, but a few days later Sarkisian said he had a quadriceps injury.
The injury has lingered to the point where Locker was a spectator during Washington's off week. The bleeding and swelling in his right leg was still there earlier this week, but Locker said on Monday the pain and stiffness has gotten better each day.
Locker split reps with backup Ronnie Fouch this week, but was given the majority of the work on Thursday.
"It's stability. It's great to have your starting quarterback," Sarkisian said. "Never mind an execution and all that standpoint. Just from an execution standpoint, being in the huddle, all the things that he brings. There are some obvious leadership skills that he brings that I know the team feeds off of."
Locker leads the Pac-10 in total offense at 271.9 yards per game and is third in yards passing. Washington hasn't won a road game since Nov. 3, 2007 at Stanford, but its last two road games at Notre Dame and Arizona State were decided in overtime or the final seconds.
"I think we're close," Sarkisian said. "We're understanding what it takes."