Now that spring is over, and fall camp still a few months away, thought it would be appropriate to review each position grouping. The goal is to review what happened in the spring and look ahead to how it shapes up once fall camp begins Aug. 9. I was able to talk with head coach Steve Sarkisian for a while last week to get his post-spring thoughts on every position, so those will be included, as well. So look for reviews of every position over the next couple weeks.
Today we start with the quarterbacks (pictured to the right is Nick Montana during the spring game).
POST-SPRING DEPTH CHART
Jake Locker, Sr.
Keith Price, RFr./
or Nick Montana, Fr.
NEWCOMERS ARRIVING IN THE FALL
No scholarship players. Two walk-ons are expected.
POST-SPRING OVERVIEW: No battle for the starting job here as the Huskies return the QB who may draw as much attention as anyone else at this position in the country this season in Locker.
The Huskies spent the spring continuing to refine Locker’s mechanics — particularly on deep passes — and increase his comfort in the offense. Coaches said he showed a greater mastery of the offense, able to more quickly read defenses to get to second, third and even fourth options on plays.
The running aspect of Locker’s game was kept in check during the spring. But it will be a big part of the offense this fall as Sarkisian liked the way the offense looked in UW’s last two games of 2009, when Locker carried 24 times for 171 yards. Anyone wanting to know what UW’s offense will look like this year, pull out tapes of the WSU and Cal games.
As for the backup spot, Price and Montana each showed some flashes during the spring, and each also had some predictable rough spots. Sarkisian’s oft-stated quote on that battle is that he’s “not worried” about a pecking order, and there’s no timetable for selecting a backup. It’s possible that goes until the days right before the BYU game — or potentially is never clearly defined until the moment it has to be.
It’s possible they just leave that as an either/or on the depth chart all year. All three will travel to all the games, anyway, and should Locker get hurt, it’s likely both would have to play in some capacity. I think the coaches will prepare both to play and worry later about establishing any pecking order (and as far as establishing a QB for the future, I think that battle likely goes into spring 2011 anyway).
Price is the better runner of the two, Montana the more accurate passer. But Montana showed some better athleticism than many might have expected, and Sarkisian says the running aspect of the offense, implemented to take advantage of Locker’s skills, will remain when he departs.
Montana, as a true freshman, was off limits to the media in the spring.
Price said he has “no clue” who might be the leader for the backup spot but that he is worried more about simply improving his game.
Asked to assess his spring, he said: “It was okay. I’ve got a long way to go. I’m going to just keep grinding and stuyding my playbook and watching film and working for fall camp.”
Here is Sarkisian’s overview of the QB position following the spring:
“I think we definitely got better this spring at quarterback. I think obviously, when you look at Jake’s game, his efficiency throwing the ball down the field was something we wanted to focus on, which (we did). The quick game stuff was there. I love what the two young kids did. I tought they got better and better and better. And the biggest thing I was impressed with Keith and Nick was their composure, not only at the line of scrimmage and during plays but in the huddle and dealing with all the things that happen in the huddle.”
As for the depth chart behind Locker, he said:
“I’m not concerned about that — we’ll deal with that down the road. I’m extremely comfortable with these two kids. Really, they played better than maybe we anticipated they might. We thought they’d have some bigger struggles and turn the ball over more than they did, but they didn’t, and they managed the team well. And with all of that, all three of our guys are really good athletes and we didn’t really allow our guys to run. There were a lot of quick whistles all spring. And when you add that dimension to Jake, Keith and Nick, they are going to be better players.”
And as noted above, while UW had just three QBs total on the roster in the spring, Sarkisian says two walk-ons will be added for the fall (he can’t say who they are yet) to improve the depth at the position.
Overall, this is obviously a position where UW is very strong at the top, uncertain after that. Keeping Locker healthy will just as obviously be a huge key to this position, and to UW’s season.