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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Living life without Locker

    For Washington to beat Arizona Saturday, it would likely need a repeat of quarterback Jake Locker’s performance a year ago.

    The Huskies’ signal caller ran for 157 yards and threw for another 336 in a 48-41 Wildcat win, but this season’s matchup will not include Locker due to a fractured first metacarpal in his right thumb. The injury will keep the super sophomore from running the Washington offense for six to eight weeks, Washington head coach Tyrone Willingham said.

    “”Obviously (Jake) is important to our football team, but I’ve always been a coach who has believed that football is a game that requires the next guy to be ready,”” the head coach said during a Monday news conference. “”He has to step up and he has to make a sacrifice for the team and step in and be the starter.””

    Willingham said he noticed backup quarterback Ronnie Fouch did an excellent job in relief of Locker, as evidenced by his “”coolness and composure”” on his first play of the game. Fouch used an audible from the original play call to an option run – not his strong suit – and guided the team to two second-half touchdowns in a competitive game.

    “”I have to step in and do whatever I can to help this team win and score points,”” Fouch said.

    The change of quarterback dramatically changed the way Arizona prepared for Washington after it spent the entire bye week devising a plan to contain Locker.

    “”(Washington’s) quarterback run game won’t be as emphasized as what we went into a week ago so we prepared for more home-set looks,”” UA head coach Mike Stoops said. “”I imagine they’ll come in with a pretty open game plan like they’ve got nothing to lose, and that can be very dangerous if you’re not prepared.””

    Despite the change in defensive game plan for the Wildcats, their offense has numerous favorable matchups – starting in the trenches. The Huskies defensive group has yet to record a sack through the first four games of this season.

    Although this will be this group of Arizona linemen’s first start together, the Wildcats’ offensive line is at least as good as the units on Stanford, Oregon and Brigham Young – all of which beat Washington in Seattle this season.

    “”I think (the defensive line) is far better than when we started the season,”” Willingham said. “”Sometimes incremental at best, but I think they are getting better.””

    The Huskies coach needs more production out of his front seven to slow down Arizona’s potent offense, led by senior quarterback Willie Tuitama, who averages 42.5 points per game.

    “”From what I’ve see this year, (Tuitama) is more knowledgeable of what his own offense is and his ability to distribute the ball,”” Willingham said. “”He’s got two pretty good weapons with (running back Nic) Grigsby and (wide receiver Mike) Thomas. Those guys are playing extremely well right now.””

    What would have been a tough game to begin with just got tougher with the loss of Locker, but Willingham said if his team can keep executing the fundamentals correctly, then the Huskies will have a good chance at a win.

    “”You just have to go forward with the next guy,”” Willingham said. “”I have very high expectations of Ronnie and what I expect him to do for our football team. … No matter what you change it’s still a game of blocking, tackling, running, throwing (and) catching.””

    Kimball’s Keys

    Quick Start
    The Wildcat’s have gotten off to quick starts in every game this season as they’ve scored 42 points in the first quarter of games. Washington has scored just 14 in the opening quarter and that’s part of the reason for theira winless record. The longer this game stays close, the better the Huskies’ chances.

    The Unknown
    Arizona doesn’t really know what kind of game plan Washington will have offensively and the change could be somethingwhat of a schematic advantage. Arizona’s offensive line will collectively be a new group, but it has an extra week of practice reps as compared to the entire Huskies offense. Whichever unit looks sharper will be a good indicator of which team will win.

    Tui Time
    If he’s on, Arizona lights up the scoreboard. If he’s off, not so much. But this season, the senior looks much more comfortable in Sonny Dyke’s offense with the exception of the New Mexico game. If he gets good protection and makes smart decisions with the football, Arizona should be on its way to 2-0 in conference play.

    Who to watch for

    UA – TE, 48, Rob Gronkowski
    Big Country is back. Gronkowski had two touchdowns in his first game back against UCLA weeks ago. With another week to rest up following his absence due to mononucleosis coupled with a reeling Washington defense, Gronkowski could have a big game.

    UW – QB, 8, Ronnie Fouch
    The 6-foot-1, 203- pound quarterback has a lot on his shoulders. Washington is 0-4 and he is making his first start in the Huskies first road game of the season and Arizona’s defense is statistically one of the best in the country. It Fouch responds to the Wildcats’ pressure.

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