Locker Ready To Be Back Leading The Dawgs

Aug. 24, 2009

SEATTLE - by Michael Jeremiah

Entering his junior season, Jake Locker's mind could be on a wide variety of things. Returning from injury, signing with the Los Angeles Angels or the fact that the Huskies are now less than two weeks removed from the season opener with the LSU are all cause for stress, but the Husky quarterback remains focused on camp and learning how to lead the offense under Coach Steve Sarkisian.

The Huskies are past the halfway point of their fall camp, and the exhausting two-a-day practices seem to be adding up. Learning the new offense along with the physical toll of camp is beginning to slow Locker down a bit, but it's not taking away from his effort or excitement about the opportunity camp provides.

'It's not hitting a wall by any means,' said Locker. 'If you look at it that way you're not going to make it through any of them. It's a little tougher on the body as the years go on, but it's a time for us to get familiar with each other as a team. We get some camaraderie and get ready physically and mentally to play in the season. If we are able to practice well during these times it will only being easier during the season.'

The practices haven't been dull, as the highly competitive feel of practices keeps the energy flowing. The competition between the offense and the defense has been a major storyline of camp, as the two units have gone back and forth for the last two weeks. Each day the winner is announced by Sarkisian.

'[The competition is] something that coach really challenges us to have,' said Locker. 'That's something that he really likes. When one side raises the level of play, the other side responds to it. I think we have done a good job of doing so far this camp. As we continue to that, it's making both sides of the ball better.'

At quarterback, Locker has the best view of the new defense that defensive coordinator Nick Holt is implementing. Every day for two weeks, the defense has been getting after Locker among others.

'They are doing a good job,' said Locker. 'USC is a very attacking defense and they've been successful with what they've been doing ... I'm happy that they're so effective with it because it's obviously something that is fun to watch be successful for them on Saturdays.'

The pressure applied by the defense has put a strain on the offense. It's baptism by fire to learn a new offense when the defense is as aggressive as the white shirts have been in fall camp. Locker sees the added pressure as a chance to learn and simulate a potential in-game situation.

'We're getting more comfortable with it,' said Locker. 'The guys in front are being able to recognize that stuff. We've been picking some of it up well. When you bring a lot of guys it's on us to get the ball out quick. We've got to make big plays to stop teams from doing that to us. It will only make Saturdays that much easier for our offense. We're seeing stuff like this so we won't be surprised later.'

His fourth season on the roster and third as the starting quarterback for the Huskies starts in less than two weeks and although it's been a busy summer, Locker looks ready to lead his team to a successful year. After missing the last eight games of 2008 with a broken thumb, having a healthy number 10 has Husky fans very excited for the 2009 season.

NOTE: Check back later for much more from Monday's 3:00 p.m. practice.

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