Still in Vancouver, where it’s finally beginning to feel like winter — just in time to begin thinking about spring football.
It’s just over a month away, set to start on March 30.
So time to start examining the Huskies by position heading into the spring. We’ll start with the quarterbacks, a pretty cut-and-dried group with just three on the roster at the moment.
RETURNING PLAYERS: 3 — Jake Locker, Sr.; Keith Price, RFr.
INCOMING FRESHMAN — Nick Montana.
PLAYERS LOST — Ronnie Fouch, Taylor Bean.
RETURNING STARTERS — 1 (Locker).
LOOK AHEAD — In later entries, I will list breakdown the returners by
scholarship and walk-on. Locker, obviously, is a unique case, technically a walk-on due to his baseball contract. But for now, as far as I know, UW doesn’t have a true walk-on QB in the fold yet, so it will head into the spring with three, and fortunate to be able to do that with Montana enrolling early.
There is obviously no question about the starter for the Huskies. Locker’s quest this spring is to continue to refine his passing, his knowledge of the system and how best to integrate his running.
I don’t think it’s a coincidence that UW played some of its best ball in the final two games when Locker was more free to run — he had 24 carries for 171 yards in the last two games. He finished the year with 112 carries for 388 yards, so you can see the difference in the final two games. He won’t ever say it, but I think he wants the freedom to run a little more than he did at times during the season, and the last two games were the perfect mix, something I think helped in his decision to return.
The biggest intrigue about this position in the spring will be seeing the development of Price, and how quickly Montana can adjust to college ball. Conventional wisdom is that Montana is likely to redshirt in 2010 so Price is likely to be the backup, though I would expect that Montana would suit up for all the games and make all the trips.
But UW coach Steve Sarkisian will give Montana every chance to win the backup job, and I wouldn’t expect anything to be written in stone about that job until deep into August.
Price is a good dual-threat QB, more in common stylistically with Locker than Montana, who is more of a traditional drop-back guy. The coaches spent last fall working on Price’s throwing motion, attempting to alter it a little bit from being straight over-the-top.
“They just brought down my release,” Price said late in the season. “My release was kind of high and they brought it down, kind of 90 degrees or so, and I’m throwing the ball more accurate.” (For those who asked about this, he means they brought it down 90 degrees or so, so out of 360, that being the top, he’s now 90 degrees lower as a general approximation — he’s not strictly sidearm, but lower. Does that make sense?)
Said offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Doug Nussmeier last season: “Keith is an over-the-top thrower and he tended to get a little stiff and lock his front hip a little bit. So we’re just trying to work to get his motion, instead of being up-and-down, being out in front and throwing more fluid so he doesn’t get herky-jerky.”
Nussmeier said he thought the change had gone well.
“I’m really happy with what Keith has done,” Nussmeier said. “He is still learning what college football is all about, as all freshman are. But he’s got a good work ethic. He has really good feet and a really god release and if we continue to work on that stuff — the quickness of his release is really good, so if we can modify it a little bit on where the launch point is, I think he will be real successful.”
As for Montana, Sarkisian seemed to indicate he thinks he’s readier to compete from a physical standpoint than some others when he made a point at his letter-of-intent signing day of saying that Montana was 6-3, 191 (he’s often been listed a little shorter and lighter).
Certainly, from an intangible standpoint, Montana would seem to be more prepared than a lot of guys to make the kind of transition he will attempt this spring. The question will be how ready he is physically.