I’ve gotten several e-mails from fans wondering about Jake Locker and his mouthpiece during Saturday’s game.
A few intimated that it looked as if Locker only put it in on plays when he ran, and had it out on plays when he was going to pass.
What actually happened, if you watch the replay, is that Locker simply forgot to put his mouthpiece in for a couple of entire series. One notable series where Locker didn’t have his mouthpiece in at all was UW’s scoring drive in the second quarter, capped when Locker ran nine yards for a touchdown — which was designed for him to run from the start. If you look carefully at the play, his moutpiece is in his helmet (as it also is in the AP picture to the right — you can see the mouthpiece stuck to the upper right of his helmet.
I asked Locker about that today and he laughed and said “I just forgot to put it in.” He says that happens sometimes because he gets caught up in the game and the atmosphere and just doesn’t remember to do it.
“It just passes out of my mind every once in a while,” he said.
If you watch the replay, you’ll notice that Locker did remember to put in his mouthpiece for most of the rest of the game following that TD run.
So there was nothing about that that would have tipped off BYU in anyway. Instead, the fact that his running was held in check — he had 29 yards on 11 attempts — was due to a BYU defense that made it a priority to keep him in check.
Locker said BYU’s defense was particularly difficult for him to run against since it’s a 3-4, meaning more LBs to shade outside and keep him inside.
“Being that they were in the 3-4, they always kind of have those overhang linebackers, and a lot of times they were rushing three guys,” he said. “So that allows them to have QB spies and kind of hang players that are responsible for the quarterback and are able to keep the quarterback contained a little bit. When you run into similar schemes, yeah, that will definitely be the case. But I think that opens up other opportunities for our offense. Being able to run the ball, with the running backs, in the middle of their defense. And it allows us to run some different things route-wise, maybe longer-developing plays that give our receivers an opportunity to work in the secondary and get open.”
Locker, however, said it’s something he’s seen before.
“There’s teams in the Pac-10 that have gone to it in previous years, so it’s something that we’ve seen,” he said. “It wasn’t new to us, it wasn’t unfamiliar. So, yeah, we’ve seen it before.”
One play BYU seemed to have sniffed out well was a designed run for Locker on a third-and-five on the final series when he lost two yards.
Locker said there was confusion on the play that led to it not being executed properly.
“We just didn’t get the right call, and we were on different pages, and it cost us,” he said. ” They (the linemen) were going a different way than I was going. Yeah. It was on me. It was my fault. … I thought we moved the ball on that last drive really well and then just kind of stalled out there. That obviously was a big play for us. I didn’t do a good job of … I called the wrong way, and that’s going to cost you at that point in the game. I don’t know what other communication errors you’re referring to, but I thought for the most part we did pretty well as far as ID-ing up front and getting on the guys we needed to.
Here’s some more of what Locker said today:
On other miscommunication on offense: “Yeah, that’s something, with blocking schemes and stuff, maybe, the linemen felt like they were on different pages. I’m not sure. As far as we were in the huddle and getting out to the line of scrimmage, I thought we did a good job for the most part.”
On whether these are the same, old Huskies: “I don’t think it’s the same-old, same-old. We lost by six points on Saturday. If you look at a lot of the games in the past, working up to this point, we’ve had our opportunities, last year, definitely. But we have a chance to win that game. We were close in that football game. We did a lot of good things, but we made a lot of crucial mistakes on the road that’ll hurt you. And I think more important than when you’re at home, when you’re on the road you can’t make those errors because you’re in an environment that brings their fans back into the game, creates momentum for their football team, and they’re able to build off that. So I think one of our biggest focuses when we’re on the road is to cut out the crucial mistakes that we made.”
On his passing Saturday: “I felt pretty good. I missed some throws I should have made definitely. I felt we were able to get the ball down the field, create some explosive plays and missed a couple of opportunities after watching the film to get some more. I’m going to have to make sure to get locked in a little better and capitalize on those opportunities.”
On the play of Drew Schaefer, getting his first start at center: “I thought Drew played a great game. He did a good job. It’s difficult when you get in that 3-4 and you have to deal with the nose a lot. A lot of times that’s a single block by yourself and I think he did a good job against a tremendous football player. He was controlling the line of scrimmage and controlling him.”
On the last fourth down play: “It was a tough one. They had a pretty good call on. I didn’t see that guy looping around, he made a good play got his hand up on the ball. I thought they had it covered pretty well. It was just one of those plays where we’re able to get more familiar with that look and recognize and understand they’re only rushing 2 or 3 guys maybe work around in the pocket a little bit, let those receivers work down field and see if they can’t find a window to get open.”