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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Wildcats alter strategy with Locker out

    Washington quarterback Jake Locker carries the ball against Stanford in the first quarter Saturday in an NCAA college football game in Seattle.
    Washington quarterback Jake Locker carries the ball against Stanford in the first quarter Saturday in an NCAA college football game in Seattle.

    The Arizona football team felt fortunate that last week’s bye fell where it did, because the extra time was needed to figure out how to defend itself against Washington’s dual-threat quarterback Jake Locker.

    It turns out Arizona didn’t need the extra week of preparation after all.

    In Washington’s 35-28 loss to Stanford on Saturday night, Locker left the game with a broken thumb and after surgery Monday, the quarterback is expected to miss up to six to eight weeks for recovery.

    Locker was injured in a display of toughness and unique athleticism, as he was blocking for a receiver on a designed reverse play.

    “”Obviously, I think it’s a huge loss,”” Washington head coach Tyrone Willingham told The Associated Press. “”He adds so much to our team in so many ways. His presence, his running skills, what he’s done for us in the passing game.””

    While some may worry that Arizona wasted a week preparing for a weapon who turned out to be a non-factor, rest assured that the Wildcats aren’t too upset that Locker won’t be appearing when the two teams square off on Saturday.

    Despite Arizona’s comeback victory in Seattle last year, Locker had a masterful performance in which he racked up 157 rushing yards and two touchdowns and threw for 336 yards and two touchdowns.

    “”It certainly changes things a little bit,”” said UA defensive coordinator Mark Stoops. “”They will get back to some of the things they do well; some of the power run game. They have a big, strong offensive line so we will have to do some of those things (this week in practice) and get prepared for some of that.

    “”I think any time you lose a quarterback of his nature it hurts,”” Stoops added. “”It hurts them and it makes our preparation a little easier.””

    Starting in Locker’s place will be redshirt freshman Ronnie Fouch, who went 13-for-27 for 186 yards against Stanford. It wasn’t enough, however, to get Washington its first win of the season.

    While Fouch may pose some threat, Arizona is certainly expecting the running game to be more of a factor than previously expected. Though Locker has carried the ball 56 times – by far the most on the team – the Wildcats will prepare for more of an in-between-the-tackles rushing approach.

    “”It is going to be a lot more of a physical game now, it seems,”” said UA linebacker Ronnie Palmer. “”I am sure there are going to be a lot more runs now in practice than passes, but we are definitely going to have to keep the same mindframe.””

    Washington’s weaknesses could be ‘Cats’ strength

    As if the loss of Locker weren’t bad enough for the Huskies, it looks as if Washington’s biggest difficulty this season could be its Achilles’ heel.

    Washington has struggled on defense in terms of pressuring the opposing quarterback, which is evident in their failure to record a sack through four games.

    The Huskies have also struggled in stopping the run, given they allow almost 230 yards per game on the ground.

    With Arizona’s spread offense, which sports a bevy of explosive players such as quarterback Willie Tuitama and running back Nic Grigsby, the Huskies could find themselves in a bad place come Saturday.

    Even though Washington may not want to dwell on their struggles, the Wildcat offense surely isn’t taking any stock in the Huskies’ previous struggles.

    “”That’s always a plus, but any day a team can come out and stop the run just like they can stop the pass,”” Grigsby said. “”We don’t know what to expect. We need to come out and prepare and be ready.””

    Arizona head coach Mike Stoops isn’t taking anything for granted, especially because he is all too familiar with the feeling of being upset by lesser-tier teams.

    “”We have to work for it. They aren’t going to give us anything,”” Mike Stoops said in his weekly press conference. “”It’s OK. We will be ready. I think our kids will be excited to be back on the field.””

    Stoops brothers talked with Bob about Washington

    If there’s ever been an inside advantage in terms of gaining information on how to stop an opposing team, it’s possible that the Stoops brothers have it.

    That’s because their brother, Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops, has already seen Washington this year and all the siblings keep in constant contact.

    That being said, Bob Stoops’ top-ranked Sooners embarrassed Washington in Seattle with a 55-14 win over the Huskies. Oklahoma started off the game with six straight touchdowns.

    Both Mike and Mark Stoops would certainly welcome any information gained.

    “”We talked a lot last week but things have obviously changed a great deal between now and then,”” Mike Stoops said. “”We have a pretty good idea of what we need to work out and what we need to do to win this game.””

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