We saved the very best for the very last: the QB position, occupied by Jake Locker. Wherever Washington goes in 2009, Jake Locker is going to take them. Everyone on the schedule knows it, which is why Jake enter 2009 with a giant bulls-eye on his chest.
Steve Sarkisian's plan for 2009 includes relieving the load on Jake's broad shoulders by surrounding him with a more suitable offense and better tools to compliment his talents. Surely, Locker will still run in 2009; however, he is instructed to look to pass first.
Having more experience at the surrounding skill positions will assist Jake greatly this season. Look for him to use his fullbacks and tight ends regularly, providing a nice intermediate dump-off option which opposing teams need to respect. Close in on Jake and he'll burn you by hitting his big guys in the secondary.
One thing that must improve is the running game. The offensive line must open some holes for the running backs; should that happen, it provides Washington many options, making them far less predictable. Chris Polk and Demetrious Bronson looked like an impressive one-two punch this spring. If they can take that progress into the fall, Locker is going to have a better, healthier campaign.
Obviously for Locker to excel in 2009, he must become a better passer. For the first time since arriving on campus, he has true QB coaches working with him. With Steve Sarkisian and assistant Doug Nussmeier monitoring his every move, Jake could be ready to turn the corner and become a more complete player. In his first spring with the new staff, he was sharp with his throws and making better decisions, completing more than 60% of his passes.
For this to continue in the fall, Jake needs to rely on his arm first, rather than his feet. Footwork while passing has always been a problem for him. The coaches are working with him so his feet are set correctly for every throw, limiting the overthrows he has been plagued with.
Jake has a gun for an arm and he can throw it the distance when asked. The problem has been developing the touch necessary to hit his receivers in stride so they can score the long one. D'Andre Goodwin can get behind most defensive backs in the conference and he has the hands to make any type of grab. Locker must take advantage of this weapon 2009; Goodwin scored a mere one TD last season.
Backing up Jake is Ronnie Fouch, who started seven games in 2008. Fouch had a tough time playing for a team who had given up up once Locker was injured and Willingham's fate was clear. Like Jake, Ronnie is now getting the first real coaching of his college career. The experience he gained last season will help him in his back-up role this fall. Judging a redshirt freshman playing for the first time behind a crappy line with inexperience surrounding him and a lame duck coach isn't ideal. I don't know what the future holds for Ronnie after Locker leaves; one thing for certain is he is getting his reps and solid coaching.
Keith Price is already on campus impressing most who have seen him play. He has a lot of work to do with footwork and learning the offense, but the true frosh is going to be a player. Scott Eklund from Dawgman observed him at a workout and came away pretty impressed with his athleticism and arm strength. With a year of coaching, all the other intangibles will come together.
On the recruiting front, Washington lost local uber prep Jake Heaps to BYU, but picked up a kid that brings a lot more press to the program in Nick Montana. It seems not a day goes by without someone in the media writing about Nick and his famous father, Joe. Make no mistake, having Joe Montana associated with UW is a big deal. Make no mistake, Nick Montana is going to end up a pretty good QB before his career is over on Montlake.
In an interesting twist of events Nick Montana will face off against Jake Heaps in a HS game at Skyline this season that will be broadcast nationally on ESPN. This will give Husky fans an early look at what they recieved and what could have been. There are a lot of recruiting experts out there that feel Montana is a better fit for the UW offense than Heaps. Only time will tell. My prediction is they will both have very good careers at their respective schools.