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Husky Football Blog

The latest news and analysis on the Montlake Dawgs.

March 13, 2012 at 8:16 PM

March questions and answers, Volume Eight

Questions about Jake Locker, Shaquille Thompson, and more. …

Q: Is there any news on how Jake Locker is responding to the Titans’ hard pursuit of Peyton Manning? Can’t feel good. It’s definitely going to set him back if Manning is signed then made the starter.

A: Kind of two issues here, and I’ll start with the first:

If Locker showed anything during his UW career, and everything that led to it, it’s that the last thing he would be is bummed backing up Manning for a year or two, which is probably all it would be. I’d imagine Matt Hasselbeck would be the bigger loser here as it’s hard to imagine they’d keep him and Manning (though I’ll confess I don’t know the particulars of Hasselbeck’s contract as to what the ramifications of that would be). Everybody obviously wants to play, but if there’s anyone who would keep something like this in perspective, it’s Locker.

As for how much of a setback it would be for Locker, he was already behind Hasselbeck — not sure Manning is going to play any longer than Hasselbeck, especially given his well-documented health issues. Both will be 36 years old when next season starts.

No doubt that if the Titans sign Manning, it rules out any chance of Locker winning the job in the fall — the job will reportedly be open if it’s just Locker and Hasselbeck. But given Manning’s age and fragility, I’m not sure this would necessarily be a real long-term roadblock for Locker.

Q: I had read a while back that Shaq Thompson is also considering playing baseball and will enter the draft. What are the chances of him going in the direction of baseball rather than football if the dollars are there, therefore not coming to the U of W at all?

A: Thompson is playing baseball at Grant, though the season is just a few games old and too early yet to even try to guess what it means for his future. When I spoke to Thompson, he said baseball was solely something he would do in the summer, that football is number one. I guess anything is theoretically possible depending on what might happen in the draft. But I didn’t get the sense Thompson would be drafted high enough that having to choose sports would be an issue.

And to reiterate on this issue, he also has no interest in playing college baseball. I think he either gets drafted and has a professional option in baseball, or he doesn’t play it anymore.

Q: What are the prospects for Bishop Sankey? Do you believe he will get the bulk of the carries next season? My eyes tell me he’s a more explosive runner than Jesse Callier (and Chris Polk). On the other hand, I haven’t seen enough passing plays to see how good of a pass-catcher he will be…though not many RBs can compare to Polk in this regard. Does Bishop have the pedigree to be the next great UW rb? Also, I know fans were disappointed that KeiVarae Russell went to Notre Dame. How does Sankey compare to Russell?

A: Hard to say definitively yet exactly how that competition will unfold until we see it in the spring and fall camp — and remember that if Deontae Cooper shows he’s healthy he’ll be right there in it, as well.

My hunch remains that it will be much more of a committee deal than it has been the last three years, when Chris Polk got almost 59 percent of the carries (which I detailed in this look at the running backs earlier this year). Right now, I think Callier would be sort of 1A and Sankey 1B with others based on health (Johri Fogerson could factor in, as well). Then it becomes a matter of performance.

I’m not sure we’ve seen enough yet of either in an every-down role to really say yet that one will emerge as a decided favorite ahead of the other — this will obviously be one of the real spots of intrigue this spring.

And while you rightly mention pass receiving, what’s just as important the eyes of the coaches is pass blocking. That was something Sankey definitely had to work on last fall and will be a real key for him going forward.

Q: Who do you think will be the next coaches fired in the PAC-12 in the years to come and do you think things will stay more or less status quo for next 3-4 years? I have been thinking with all of the coaching changes over the off-season and most programs spending a lot of their new TV deal money on football coaches some schools are going to have to lose and coaches are going to fail. Right now, most Pac-12 schools seem optimistic about their football futures as there are several new coaches who have been brought in to turnaround programs and the other coaches have seemed to show promise.

A: That’s a good point that right now, just about every Pac-12 team has something to feel good about. Consider that the coach who has probably the hottest seat right now would be Jeff Tedford — who is merely the winningest coach in the history of his school. Mike Riley had probably not better have too many more seasons like last year.

But that’s about it.

Of course, a lack of hot seats makes some sense when you have the kind of turnover that the Pac-12 had last year, with four coaches getting fired.

Other than the two I mentioned above, the rest of the are either successful or still so early in their careers — or just hired — that it’s impossible to make real judgments yet about where things are headed.

As for the competitiveness of the conference right now due to the TV money, that’s another good point. Everybody has more money and is being aggressive in hiring coaches and making other football-related improvements — and right now, everyone is also equally flush with optimism. But it is a reality of sports that for every winner, there’s a loser (except for soccer, I guess), so in a few years some of these teams that feel optimism now will be wondering where it all went wrong.

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