Jake Locker vs. Andrew Luck matchup highlights UW-Stanford game
Husky Stadium, in 90 years, has never been host to a game that matched two quarterbacks likely to be drafted the next spring in the first round. That will change when Washington's Jake Locker and Stanford's Andrew Luck play on Saturday.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Stanford @ Washington,
4 p.m., Versus
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Husky Stadium has been the host for an almost uncountable number of memorable events in its 90 years.
But it has never witnessed what could happen Saturday — a matchup of two quarterbacks likely to be taken in the first round of the next NFL draft.
In fact, Washington's Jake Locker and Stanford's Andrew Luck — whose teams play in a 4 p.m. game that will be televised by Versus — are not only projected as first-rounders but have each been pegged at times as the possible first choice.
Roughly 14 NFL scouts will be in attendance to see the matchup of Locker, a senior, and Luck, a third-year sophomore who could make himself eligible for the draft.
That such a matchup of two potential first-round quarterbacks has never happened at Husky Stadium might seem surprising until you consider one fact — Washington has never had a quarterback taken in the first round.
"I do anticipate there being a great deal of interest in Saturday's game by scouts," said Rob Rang, a senior analyst for NFLDraftScout.com/CBSSports.com. "Teams are always looking for ways to get the most bang for their buck, so to speak, and in Luck and Locker on the same field, arguably the two top quarterback prospects in the entire country can be reviewed on the same trip."
Each has size that makes scouts drool (Locker is 6 feet 3, 230 pounds; Luck 6-4, 235) and better-than-average mobility to go with a powerful arm (Luck has 253 yards rushing this year, averaging 7.2 per attempt, better than Locker's' 252 and 3.7).
It was Locker who was viewed as a potential first choice in the 2010 draft last winter before he made the decision to return for one more year. But with Washington struggling at 3-4 and Locker's numbers a little off from expectations, the scouts are beginning to look more closely at Luck as a possible No. 1 selection.
"The current feeling on Andrew Luck is that he's emerged as the top prospect potentially available for the 2011 draft," Rang said. "Not only does he possess the physical attributes scouts are looking for, he is a very cerebral player who is rarely fooled by the defense. His ability to consistently hit his receivers in stride is one area in which he's overtaken Locker.
"The current feeling on Jake Locker is that he remains the top senior quarterback prospect and a first-round prospect. He has not made the strides yet this year that scouts had hoped, but possesses such rare tools and the work ethic to take advantage of them. Locker's numbers at this point in the season are not far off from those Mark Sanchez put up in 2008 (at USC). If Locker can enjoy a strong finish to his season — which could include a senior all-star game — he could enjoy a similar late leap up the board as Sanchez (fifth overall)."
Fortunately for Locker, he appears to be as healthy as he has been since before the USC game after struggling with a bruised thigh and sore ribs the past three weeks.
The game Saturday, though, will be about more than just the quarterbacks. Washington could use a win to help achieve its goal of a bowl game after a 44-14 defeat at Arizona last week.
And now it faces a Stanford team that is 6-1, losing only at Oregon, and has established itself as maybe the most physical team in the Pac-10. Stanford averages 216 yards on the ground, using the run to set up Luck with play-action passes.
That formula worked well for the Cardinal last year when it rolled up 478 yards, beating UW 34-14.
"We've just got to put our big-boy pads on this week," said UW linebacker Cort Dennison. "We know they are going to try and pound the ball, just like they did last year. They got us pretty good last year, so this year is a challenge for us. We've got to come out and be ready to play and be as physical as they are, because they are going to bring it."
Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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