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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Hike to Locker – he’ll run

    UA linebacker Spencer Larsen hits Stanford wide receiver Evan Moore during the Wildcats 21-20 loss Saturday at Arizona Stadium. Larsen and the rest of the football team will face another flighty Washington quarterback tomorrow at noon in Seattle.
    UA linebacker Spencer Larsen hits Stanford wide receiver Evan Moore during the Wildcats’ 21-20 loss Saturday at Arizona Stadium. Larsen and the rest of the football team will face another flighty Washington quarterback tomorrow at noon in Seattle.

    Washington sophomore quarterback Jake Locker is trying his best to emulate his predecessor, Isaiah Stanback.

    So far, so good.

    Stanback brought his versatile game to the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys, who drafted him as a wide receiver.

    Now, his successor brings a very similar style of play to the Huskies.

    Stanback, who molded Washington’s style of offense with his ability to alternate passing and running, was known to tuck the ball away when the opportunity arose.

    Last season, he scored four touchdowns and amassed 350 rushing yards on top of 10 passing touchdowns and 1,325 yards through the air.

    By the numbers, Locker has already surpassed Stanback’s eight-game totals. He has six rushing touchdowns and 537 yards through seven games, as his average of 77 yards per game ranks seventh in the Pacific 10 Conference. He’s also throw for 11 scores and 1,193 yards.

    The 6-foot-3, 225-pound Locker played running back until his freshman year of high school. He considers running as a quarterback a natural ability.

    “”I’ve ran all my life,”” Locker said. “”I don’t really think about it much. … I don’t want to say it’s easy, but it comes natural to me.””

    Huskies head coach Tyrone Willingham has used running quarterbacks in his system because it creates clear problems for opposing defenses. Willingham’s offense consistently calls special plays designed for runners, such as quarterback draws, options and leaps.

    “”It’s a dimension that is much needed in this style of offense,”” Willingham said. “”It hurts defenses because it’s a one-man advantage of having an active quarterback.””

    Locker has nearly 70 more rushing yards than the team’s starting running back, Louis Rankin, on two more carries.

    He leads Arizona’s starter, Nicolas Grigsby, by more than 50 yards and has rushed for about 130 fewer yards than the entire Arizona running corps.

    “”He’s a guy that’s very talented,”” said UA head coach Mike Stoops. “”He can run it and throw it. He’s a great combination player. … He can hurt you in a lot of different ways.””

    If there have been any knocks on Locker thus far, it’s that he hasn’t been an efficient passer, having thrown nine interceptions and completed only 47 percent of his passes. Also, after leading the Huskies to two wins in the first two weeks over Syracuse and then-No. 22 Boise State, Locker and the team have lost five straight games.

    Still, Locker has managed to improve greatly ain “”understanding the offensive system and making decisions,”” Willingham said.

    That could be bad news for the Wildcats, who struggled defending Stanback the last two years in a pair of lopsided losses.

    “”Those types of offenses have always given us problems in the past because the quarterback is an extra man you have to account for,”” said UA linebacker Spencer Larsen.

    Cornerback Antoine Cason doesn’t seem too worried.

    “”His numbers in the passing game aren’t too great,”” Cason said of Locker. “”He makes plays on his feet. It’s difficult. A dual threat is always tough.

    “”He’s no Isaiah Stanback, but he’s a good athlete.””

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