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Husky Football Blog

The latest news and analysis on the Montlake Dawgs.

September 20, 2010 at 9:41 PM

Millen breaks down Locker’s day

Very interesting stuff from former UW and NFL quarterback Hugh Millen today on his Hardcore Football show with Ian Furness at KJR-AM 950 in Seattle (you can find a podcast here).
Millen reviewed the film of the UW-Nebraska game and assigned a grade to each of Jake Locker’s throws, attempting to do so with the same system in which he received grades as a player. That meant largely grading each throw for decision and execution. I urge you to try to listen to the podcast as I can’t really do Millen’s explanations justice in a forum such as this. But as a guide to what he said, I’ll briefly paraphrase the discussion.
As you may have heard by now, Locker was 4-20 for 71 yards with two interceptions and a touchdown against Nebraska.
Millen, though, said he thinks Locker would have received 10.5 pluses, 7.5 minuses and two double minuses for his 20 attempts. He also said Locker would have received a double-minus for one throw that didn’t count, a pass that was intercepted in the second half that was nullified due to a Nebraska penalty.
Obviously, 10.5 pluses means Locker received some passing grades on throws that were incomplete. Millen explained that five of those came on passes that Locker threw away in the face of a heavy rush (something QBs are taught to do). Another came on the screen passs that went awry when Locker threw to a receiver who didn’t appear to be ready for the ball (the intended recepient looked to be Jermaine Kearse, who didn’t turn for the ball). Millen said he thought Locker likely did the right thing on the play.
What would likely be the most debated play that Millen said he thinks Locker would have received a half positive grade for is the interception that was returned for a touchdown by Alfonzo Dennard in the third quarter. TO CLARIFY FROM THE EARLIER POST: Millen says this would have been a half-positive, half-negative grade. He says due to the nature of it being a timing route, Locker had to throw the ball before seeing Dennard break on it. He says it’s a half-negative, however, for the result. However, Millen says he also thinks there should have been a flag for illegal contact.
Millen explained that the play was a timing route and Locker was throwing to where he figured Devin Aguilar would be. Instead, Dennard beat Aguilar to the spot and picked it off. Jesse Callier appeared open as a check-down, which Millen acknowledged while also noting it was third-and-12 and the better bet to get the needed yards was to hit Aguilar.
He said two other incompletions would also have received plus grades for being an on-target throw to the proper receiver, but instead batted away in good plays by a Nebraska defender.
Millen said one completion — a short pass to Kearse — would be graded a negative since it came on third down and was short of a first down on a play where another receiver was open.
Millen said of the negative grades, he had three for the decision of where to throw the ball, two for being late with the throw, and two for an inaccurate throw.
Millen said he thinks the overall grade for Locker would have been somewhere in the ’70s (and this was all solely for throwing and not for running — and remember, Locker had 71 yards gained on nine rushing attempts, excluding 12 yards lost on two sacks).
Millen said he wanted to make it clear that it was “still a poor day” for Locker. However, he said taking a more in-depth view of Locker’s performance makes it clear that the passing game struggles were a team-wide failure (a point UW coach Steve Sarkisian also made today). Millen said that throughout the game, UW’s receivers got “absolutely no separation” from Nebraska’s defensive backs, rarely giving Locker anyone to which to throw.
He said the coverage by Nebraska “was a big factor” and that it appeared that Nebraska’s defensive backs were “running a 4.2” while UW’s receivers were running “a 5.0.”
And it’s worth recalling again that UW played the game without three of its leading six receivers from a year ago — James Johnson (out with an ankle injury), Kavario Middleton (kicked off team) and Johri Fogerson (out with a hip flexor). Those three last year combined for 83 receptions out of UW’s total of 231 — a hefty chunk to take out of a corps which came into the year regarded in many circles as among the best in the Pac-10. Jesse Callier, also a good receiver, has essentially filled Fogerson’s role. But it’s hard not to argue that Johnson (39 catches last year) and Middleton (26) are being missed.
Anyway, agree or disagree with some of Millen’s specific points, the larger theme can’t really be debated — that Locker was hardly the only one to blame for what ailed UW Saturday.

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