Washington's Jake Locker improved
Almost before Washington quarterback Jake Locker could sit down at Tuesday's media luncheon to kick off the beginning of spring ball, he...
Seattle Times staff reporter
Almost before Washington quarterback Jake Locker could sit down at Tuesday's media luncheon to kick off the beginning of spring ball, he was surrounded by cameras.
"I'm getting a little more comfortable with this kind of stuff," he said with a laugh. "So that's good."
What the media, and UW fans, really want to know is whether Locker will be more comfortable with the aspects of the passing game that sometimes seemed to flummox him last season.
Locker says he will be, citing an offseason of throwing drills that he thinks have refined his game.
UW offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Tim Lappano seconded that optimism.
"Year 2 with Jake in our system, you will see him grow big time," Lappano said. "You won't see the mistakes, some of the short throws that he missed. I don't think you are going to see that. Fundamentally, he's pretty sound."
Year 2 with Locker as the starting quarterback (he redshirted his first season at UW) officially starts Thursday when the Huskies begin the first of 15 spring practices in preparation for the 2008 season.
Year 1 of the Locker era was a success in many areas. He was the Pac-10 Freshman of the Year, set a school record for rushing yards by a quarterback with 986 and threw for more yards than any other freshman in school history (2,062). But the season was ultimately a disappointment as the Huskies finished 4-9, and Locker readily accepted some of the blame based on his inability at times to complete some passes that were there to be had. He completed 47.3 percent and ranked eighth in the Pac-10 in passing efficiency at 105.0.
The prime culprit was inconsistency hitting short-to-intermediate throws.
"We want to see his accuracy improve, especially on the short stuff," Lappano said. "What I want to make sure is that the quick passing game, the 7-8-yard hitches, the quick screens, all that kind of stuff is on the mark."
Locker says he thinks he began finding that consistency during offseason drills. He threw four times a week and also took part in seven-on-seven drills twice a week.
"I didn't change any of my mechanics at all, just concentrated on my footwork and just tried to throw the ball as many times as I could," he said. "That's one of the things I needed to do is just throw and get repetitions and get used to the routes we are running and get comfortable with [the passing plays]. I felt like I got a lot better at that this offseason."
Locker also said that being more comfortable and knowledgeable of the offense will help, as well.
"I felt at times last year like I was second-guessing where I was going with the ball, and that caused me to maybe be not as confident in my throwing when I was delivering it," he said.
Locker also plans to be a little more mature in his approach to running. He took several big hits while scrambling last season, notably a scary collision with Oregon State safety Al Afalava that sent him to a hospital and caused him to sit out the next week against California.
"I'm going to be smarter about how I run," he said.
Locker said it took about a month following the Dec. 1 finale at Hawaii to completely recover from the wear and tear of the season.
But none of those aches caused him to rethink his choice of careers despite his announcement in February that he will spend part of the season playing baseball for the Bellingham Bells of the West Coast Collegiate Baseball League.
Locker, who was an all-state pitcher and outfielder at Ferndale High, said again Tuesday that he will work his baseball schedule around his football responsibilities and won't miss any summer drills.
"Football is still my love and my passion," he said. "But baseball is a game I missed, and I've got an opportunity to play a little bit this summer when time is permitting, so I'm taking advantage of that. I didn't do it for the future or anything like that. It's just something I feel will make my life more enjoyable this summer, and I didn't want to pass up that opportunity."
Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or email@example.com
Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company
UPDATE - 10:18 PM
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