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Husky Football Blog

The latest news and analysis on the Montlake Dawgs.

August 8, 2010 at 12:53 PM

Examining Sark’s goals for Locker

First off, a quick note that UW players are officially reporting today for the beginning of camp tomorrow. Coach Sark’s web site lays out what the day looks like for the team.
We don’t have any access to coaches or players today, so there won’t be any reports forthcoming. We’ll have plenty of that beginning tomorrow and — UW fans hope — continuing into late December or January.
In the meantime, I thought I would look at what was one of the more interesting things Steve Sarkisian said in his press conference Thursday — that his goal for Jake Locker this season is a completion percentage of 65-68 percent, with a touchdown-to-interception ratio of 3-1.
The first thought is that it was refreshing in its specificity — no one can say they don’t know exactly what the coach expects from his QB this season.
The second is that if Locker pulls it off, it would not only be among the best passing seasons in UW history, but also in the Pac-10.

As I’ve noted here before, only three UW quarterbacks in school history — of those who qualified to be the yearly passing leader — have had season completion percentages of 60 percent or higher.
Those three are:
Steve Pelluer, 1983 — 232-357, 65.0 percent
Damon Huard, 1995 — 198-313, 63.5 percent
Don Heinrich, 1950 — 134-221, 60.4 percent
Worth noting that three other QBs missed by the narrowest of margins, each at 59.9 — Brock Huard in 1997 (164-274), Billy Joe Hobert in 1991 (191-319) and Tom Flick in 1980 (191-319 — yes, the exact same completions and attempts as Hobart). Two others that came close enough to mention are Hugh Millen in 1985 at 59.8 (158-264) and Cody Pickett in 2002 at 59.6 (365-612).
Locker’s 58.4 percent last year (230-394) ranked 11th all-time in school history.
So as you can see, Sarkisian is asking Locker to do something rarely done in school history.
A 3-1 TD-to-interception ratio has been even rarer.
Again, of QBs who qualified as the team’s yearly passing leader, it’s been done only once — in 2006 when Isaiah Stanback had 10 touchdowns against three interceptions before being lost for the year to injury in the seventh game of the season.
Of QBs who played a full season, the best TD-to-INT ratio is Brock Huard’s 2.5 in 1997, when he threw 25 touchdowns against 10 interceptions (half of those coming in one game, the Apple Cup).
I actually find only four other seasons in which a UW QB threw twice as many TDs as interceptions, all coming since 1991 when Hobert threw 24 TDs and 12 picks.
The others are Damon Huard in 1995 (13-6), Brock Huard in 1996 (also 13-6) and Pickett in 2002 (28-14).
Locker threw 21 TDs against 11 interceptions last season, sixth-best in school history.
UW has obviously been known more for its running attacks through the years than high-flying passing games (despite a lengthy history of sending QBs to the NFL), so 65-percent plus seasons and 3-1 TD-to-INT ratios have been a little more common throughout the Pac-10.
Still, it’s not exactly an everyday occurrence.
Of the 100 QBs in Pac-10 history to throw for more than 2,500 yards in a season, 18 had 3-1 TD-to-INT ratios and 15 completed 65 percent or more of their passes.
Only six players have done both in the same season — two of whom were directly coached by Sarkisian in the seasons when they pulled it off.
Here’s the list of Pac-10 QBs who threw for more than 2,500 yards (which seems reasonable to expect Locker would do if he plays all season) and also completed 65 percent or more of their passes along with a 3-1 TD-to-INT ratio:
Matt Leinart, USC, 2005, 65.7 percent (283-431), with 28 TDs and 8 INTs.
Rob Johnson, USC, 1993, 68.9 percent (308-449), 29 TDs, 6 INTs.
Matt Leinart, USC, 2004, 65.3 percent (269-412), 33 TDs, 6 INTs.
Sean Canfield, Oregon State, 2009, 67.9 percent (303-446), 21 TDs, 7 INTs.
Mark Sanchez, USC, 2008, 65.8 percent (241-366), 34 TDs, 10 INTs.
Aaron Rodgers, Cal, 2004, 66.1 percent (209-316), 24 TDs, 8 INTs.
Sarkisian was the QB coach at USC for both Leinart’s season in 2005 and Sanchez’s in 2008 (Sarkisian was an assistant for the Raiders in 2004).
One thing the numbers reinforce is that the game has become more passer-friendly in recent years due to rules changes and other factors. It’s interesting looking at some of the more famous QB years in Pac-10 history and reviewiing the numbers. Jim Plunkett, for instance, won the Heisman Trophy in 1970 throwing the same number of TDs and interceptions (18 of each) and completing 53.3 percent of his passes.
And of the top 20 yardage seasons in Pac-10 history, all have come since 1993, and all but six since 2000.
Still, whether the game is more friendly to passers these days, what Sarkisian is expecting out of Locker this year is merely a season that would go down as one of the best in Pac-10 history should he pull it off.



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