Locker impresses during Spring Game

Jake Locker (Kim Grinolds/Dawgman.com)

SEATTLE - This is one game where the score isn't necessarily indicative of what took place. The Purple team, led by Jake Locker, defeated the White team 33-0 behind Locker's 16-18 passing day, and the 95-yards rushing of redshirt freshman running back Chris Polk. The game took part at Husky Stadium in front of an estimated crowd of roughly 10,000 fans, former players and family.

Essentially the game was split up by first-year Head Coach Steve Sarkisian so that the number-one team played the number twos.

"We always go goods on goods, ones versus ones," UW Defensive Coordinator Nick Holt said after the game, adding that they also wanted to keep guys from getting too banged up and to promote some success, to have the offense and defense feeling good about themselves as they head into summer conditioning. "We wanted to change the format and get a little competitive spirit between the ones and twos. And I thought it worked out pretty good.

"It was also a chance for a lot of the backup players to get a lot of reps and develop some of the depth. All in all it was a good, clean scrimmage. But the confidence level, we wanted to address that."

"It was fun to watch our kids play football, good and bad," added Sarkisian. "They had to play, it wasn't scripted, their coaches weren't in the huddle with them. They had to go play, so that factor of the spring game is what you like to watch, and it was kind of neat to see the way some of our guys responded. Some guys elevated their games and some guys took a step back a little bit."

Locker certainly elevated his game, playing a nearly flawless performance. He had one touchdown to Willie Griffin out in the flat that Griffin cut up the field for six, helped by a huge block by Devin Aguilar. His second touchdown of the day was an 8-yard pass to Jermaine Kearse with 26 seconds left in the game.

"We had fun," the junior from Ferndale said. "First half I thought we executed really well; we ran the ball well, were efficient in the passing game, moved the chains and scored touchdowns. That's what we want to do. We came out a little sluggish in the second half, we have to fix that. Overall I thought it was a pretty good game and it's something we can build on."

"I thought Jake was really sharp," added Sarkisian. "He's playing much more relaxed that he was early in spring. He's just delivering the ball, he's comfortable. I thought a little bit there in the third quarter he got stuck in the pocket a couple of times. We've been hammering home to him, ‘Stay in the pocket, stay in the pocket.' Now we've got to let him go a little bit and let him play football. But I thought he had a nice game."

Polk was the purple's main running threat, averaging nearly eight yards a carry and scoring once, from 9 yards out in the first quarter. Freshman RB Demitrius Bronson scored from 12 yards out for the other Purple rushing touchdown.

"I like what Chris Polk did," Sarkisian said. "He finally got a chance to play football and he really showed what he can do."

"I was missing a lot (of time), so I wanted to put myself out there to see why they would want to make me a starter," Polk said. "We were told they would make the depth chart based on what happened today, so I hope it's me who gets number-one on the depth chart."

Defensively, the number-ones were able to keep quarterback Ronnie Fouch and the White offense in their half of the field for most of the game, surrendering just a handful of first downs. Fouch finished the day 7-16 for 52 yards and the White running backs - Brandon Johnson, Curtis Shaw and David Freeman - accounted for only 22 yards on 12 carries.

"We didn't give up many big plays or touchdowns," Holt said of the first team defense. "I thought they played well," added Sarkisian. "Donald Butler (4.5 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss) really stood out to me, I felt like he was really making plays, he was tackling really well. That's what we need out of that middle linebacker spot: a guy that's a sure tackler, is smart and gets to the football."

"Everybody is working three times as hard," added linebacker Mason Foster, who had three tackles and 2.5 tackles for loss. "Everybody wants to play for these coaches. Everybody's competing. It's a different mentality for everyone on this team."

The Huskies will now take a little time to get refreshed, and then it's back to hitting the conditioning workouts hard, as well as the playbook.

"What's critical is these guys have now had the opportunity to go through an offseason conditioning program with us, go through practice with us and obviously we need a great summer conditioning regimen," Sarkisian said. "We need our guys to continue to work at the skill sets that we've tried to put in place through practice on their own, because unfortunately the NCAA doesn't allow us to get back with these guys until August.

"There's a lot of work to be done and the leadership on both sides of the ball is really going to have to show up so these guys can get their work done without us."
Final Statistics:
Rushing: White - Johnson 5/11, Shaw 4/10, J. Polk 1/4, Freeman 3/1, Fouch 3 (-15); Purple - C. Polk 12/95, Griffin 4/39, Bronson 4/32, Locker 6 (-1) Passing: White - Fouch 7-16-0 for 52 yards, long of 14; Purple - Locker 16-18-0 for 200 yards and two touchdown, long of 29 Receiving: White - Boyles 3/25, Hayes 3/17, J. Polk 1/10; Purple - Kearse 5/70/1, long of 20, Izbicki 3/28, Homer 3/21, Aguilar 2/36, Middleton 2/16, Griffin 1/29/1, long of 29 Defense: White - Long 6/1, Tuiasosopo 5/1, Roussel 4/1, Galbraith 3/0/1 TFL, Johnson 2/2, Aiyewa 2/1, T.J. Poe 1/3/1 TFL, Amosa 1/3, Houston 1/2/1 TFL, Remington 1/2, Duncan 1/1 TFL, Gobern 0/1; Purple - Butler 4/1/1.5 TFL, Huppert 2/3/1 TFL, Foster 2/2/2.5 TFL, Fogerson 2/1, Williams 2/0/1 FR, Jones1/1, Elisara 1/0, Glenn 1/0, Mosley 0/2, Walker 0/1, Richardson 0/1
Notes:
Recruits in attendance: I'm sure there were many more, but here were the recruits I saw before and after the Spring Game: Darius Waters, Sione Potoae, Jamaal Kearse, John Goldwire and Willis Wilson (all from Lakes), Chris Young (Auburn), Jake Welch (Mark Morris), Mike Marboe (Wenatchee), Colin Porter (Redmond), Keanon Lowe (Jesuit), Jake Heaps and Cooper Pelluer (Skyline).

Kicking woes continue: Even though the Huskies did not run special teams during the Spring Game, they did do extra points, and Erik Folk made only 2 of his four chances. Eric Guttorp tried the last PAT, and made it.

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