Locker goes 13-of-17 passing in UW spring game
For one play, Jake Locker showed the skills that also had him rated as an elite defensive back in high school, barreling through a few teammates...
Seattle Times staff reporter
For one play, Jake Locker showed the skills that also had him rated as an elite defensive back in high school, barreling through a few teammates to tackle safety Quinton Richardson after an interception.
And on a couple of occasions he put his trademark wheels to use, running easily for a first down on one third-and-short, for instance.
But most of the time Saturday, as Washington concluded spring drills with its annual Purple-Gold game at Husky Stadium, Locker was simply a quarterback.
And while there were a number of highlights in the eyes of UW coaches — the apparent improvement of the defense, the play-making ability of some of the young skill players on offense — the continuing progression of Locker might have been the biggest.
Locker led his team to just one touchdown and was on the Purple team, which lost to the Gold 10-7. But his numbers spoke loudly as he was 13-of-17 passing for 159 yards and one touchdown, with a couple of passes dropped.
"I thought it was very obvious that he knows what he's doing now and it comes to him a lot easier," said UW coach Tyrone Willingham.
Said Locker: "I felt comfortable today. I had fun and I saw things really well and I felt like I was really accurate when I was throwing the ball. I felt more comfortable running the show and making those throws that last year I wasn't as comfortable with, and just having confidence when I throw it."
Locker's lone smudge was the interception, which came on a deep pass late in the first half. Richardson cut in front of Curtis Shaw to pick it off.
But Locker came right back to complete all seven passes on his next drive of the second half in leading his team to a TD and then took a seat early on the next possession.
It was far different from last spring, when Locker was 4 of 8 in the spring finale. His percentage Saturday was also better than any game last season, when he often struggled with his accuracy, completing a Pac-10 low 47 percent as a redshirt freshman.
Several Locker throws went to D'Andre Goodwin. The sophomore receiver caught a game-high seven passes for 109 yards, including a 30-yarder from Locker that started the second-half TD drive, and an 11-yarder on third down that ended it.
"He told me 'we'll score' and we did," said offensive coordinator Tim Lappano of Goodwin, whom Lappano said has emerged as the leader of the team's young receiving corps. "He's been really consistent."
Willingham and Lappano were just as effusive in praising backup quarterback Ronnie Fouch, who was 16 of 33 for 153 yards and a touchdown but also had several passes dropped. Fouch threw a 13-yard touchdown pass to redshirt freshman Devin Aguilar in the fourth quarter that were the winning points for the Gold.
"I thought our two QBs passed the ball very well," Willingham said. "There might have been around three passes that weren't exactly where they needed to be."
A running clock contributed to the low score. The Gold team consisted of the first-team defense and second-team offense, and the Purple the first offense and second defense.
Three missed field goals and 10 penalties were cited by Willingham as the significant disappointments of the day.
The running game was hindered by quarterbacks being ruled down when touched. No running back ran for more than 9 yards, which coaches said was a sign that a defense that last year allowed 4.9 yards per rush is on the right track under first-year coordinator Ed Donatell.
"We still want to be a little more square, a little more stout," Donatell said of the defensive line. "But there are indications [of progress]. We are putting them up against what is a quality Pac-10 line."
Redshirt freshman Willie Griffin led all rushers with 71 yards on 20 carries.
True freshman Chris Polk, playing both running back and receiver, led the Purple with 20 yards on five carries and also had 25 yards on four receptions.
Locker was held to minus-23 yards rushing, thanks in part to three sacks. But he got his share of contact when he made the tackle on the interception, saying later he apologized to linebacker Mason Foster for blasting through him to get to Richardson.
"I told Mason sorry that I did that," he said. "But I was not going to let him score."
Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or email@example.com.
Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company
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