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Husky Football Blog

The latest news and analysis on the Montlake Dawgs.

November 20, 2007 at 1:06 PM

Locker to start, more on offense

We had our weekly meeting with offensive coordinator Tim Lappano, who said flat-out that Jake Locker will be the starting quarterback for the Huskies Saturday, which should remove any last doubt about that issue.
Lappano said Locker has recovered well from the neck strain suffered last week at Oregon State.
“You guys saw him warming up, right?” Lappano said, referring to the warmup period before the Cal game. “He was really throwing it pretty good.”
Lappano said after the win over Cal that he liked the look of the power-running game that the Huskies showed against the Bears, and while he wouldn’t say so Tuesday, the implication seems to be that a lot of that stuff will remain, possibly as a way to ease Locker back into the lineup a little bit.
That doesn’t mean that there will be any reluctance to run any of the spread option stuff with Locker, just that it may make some sense to take some of that pressure off of him this week.
Lappano said in the wake of the Oregon State injury that UW coaches are trying to emphasize with Locker even more the importance of avoiding contact when possible, and that what happend in Corvallis figures to have further ingrained that point with Locker, as well.
“Unless the game is on the line and we need him to fall for a first down I want him to get out of bounds, I really do,” Lappano said, pointing out that Locker was injured in the first half against OSU. “That early in the game I’d rather punt it or get another play dialed up rather than have him take a shot he doesn’t need to take. Hopefully he can do that.”
Lappano said the team will still call a lot of inside runs for Locker, where contact is unavoidable. But Locker was hurt on a scramble on what was originally a pass play.
“You can be smarter when you get forced out of the pocket,” Lappano said. “You’ve got to know when to get down. … I think when he’s on the sidelines now you’ll see him opt to get out of bounds rather than stick his foot on the ground and go back inside and take somebody on (which is what happened against Oregon State).”
On some other matters:
— Lappano said he likes the recent play of the offensive line saying it is getting “a lot more consistent. … We’re not seeing the huge ups and downs that we saw a year ago.” Still, he said there remains “a lot of room for growth” up front.
— Said the Cougars will blitz about 52-54 percent of the time, similar to Stanford, and that those two teams bring the most blitzes of any in the conference. Said that similar to Stanford, that means the Cougars figure to get the Huskies a few times, but that the converse is that there will be opportunities for UW to hit some big plays, as well, saying “we’vve got to make them pay” when they bring pressure. He said the average Pac-10 team brings pressure 22-23 percent of the time.
— Said the difference in the two teams is that the Cougars bring their blitzes from a lot of different places than did Stanford, saying WSU’s linebackers “are crawling all over the line of scrimmage, crawling all over the place, and that creates some problems.” But he said a good antidote for that is a mobile quarterback. But he said “we’ve got to be at the top of our game to know where all those guys are.” Lappano said a few sacks by Cal on blitzes Saturday were mostly the result of blocking errors by the backs, something that will have to get fixed this week, as well.
— Lappano praised the play of backup RB Brandon Johnson and said his 121-yard outing against Cal was “really important” heading into the future with Johnson a contender for the starting job next season with Louis Rankin set to graduate. Lappano said he especially liked Johnson’s attitude and readiness Saturday saying “he was giving all the right vibes in that game.”
— Lappano said the misdirection reverse plays were something UW put in last week knowing that it wouldn’t have Locker and wanting to cross up the defense a bit from being able to just rear back to defend against the two-back attack. He said UW has had some of that in the offense previously but admitted that seeing how well it worked for Oregon State the previous week “influenced it a little bit, too. … You can’t stay the same all the time.” Lappano said he liked the look of it, lamenting that one reverse to Curtis Shaw might have gone for a touchdown had it not been for a UW time out that was needed to avoid a delay penalty. “It was pretty effective,” he said of the scheme. “It wasn’t window dressing.”
— Said keeping emotions in check this week is a big part of dealing with rivalry games. “If you get too emotional, it can hurt you,” he said. Having been an assistant at WSU for five years, he said he knows how the Cougars will be up for the game. “I was there five years so I know what this game is about,” he said.
— Said he likes the way recruiting is going and that if the Huskies can win a couple more games it could lead to even better news.

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