Monday’s press conference clarified one thing about Jake Locker’s status for the final home game of the season: if he doesn’t practice, he won’t play.
Washington coach Steve Sarkisian said the team will continue to assess Locker’s cracked rib, the one that kept him out last week during the drubbing from Oregon, and go from there.
It’s a strange week. Washington plays UCLA next Thursday at 5 p.m. in a made-for-ESPN moment. Both programs bowed to the almighty and allowed the funky start time in trade for the exposure.
Whether or not Locker will be part of the process will be more clear on Saturday. He will not practice at all this week — many of the other regulars will not, as well — then may hit the field on Saturday. Because of the Thursday game following a bye week, Washington is able to rest Locker for another full week. This gives the quarterback 13 consecutive days off since the mashing he took against Stanford that progressed his injury to a point that doctors would not clear him to play.
The Huskies will treat Saturday as the start of game week. Sarkisian said Monday he didn’t know what Locker’s status would be for senior night. On Tuesday’s conference call, he expanded his thoughts a bit.
“Right now we are preparing as if Keith (Price) is our starter, and if we get Jake back we will prepare accordingly,” Sarkisian said.
Though it sounds like gamesmanship from the head coach, it’s just another variation of what he has been saying. Price has practiced throughout the week, as has third-string Nick Montana.
As for Price, Sarkisian was still pleased on Monday with the redshirt freshman’s first career start. He lamented Price doing too much dancing, often leaving the pocket or canceling his progressions too soon. Those things are fixed with time.
Price’s creativity with his legs continues to be his best attribute. He certainly will not start in worse circumstances than the ones thrust upon him last weekend. Sarkisian noted the difference between Locker and Price.
“Keith obviously doesn’t have the size that Jake has,” Sarkisian said. “Jake is a very powerful guy, runner and thrower. Keith is probably a little bit quicker, has a quicker release, more of a sudden movement guy. Those are the two biggest differences, (going) from a powerful, explosive guy in Jake to a quicker release, quicker movement guy in Keith.”
If Locker can’t go on Thursday, it will be one more shot to his legacy. That would mean his final game in Husky Stadium was a 41-0 loss to Stanford. That hurts more than any cracked rib.