Once again, the regular season is over and it’s time for Jake Locker to pack his bags.
The four prior end-of-season team meetings for Locker explained winter lifting schedules and what was expected prior to spring ball. His girlfriend has relatives in Orange County, so he would travel to southern California and visit San Diego while there. He even knew guys playing in the Holiday Bowl in San Diego, chatting them up while on his visit.
It’s different this year. Locker emerged from a 6 p.m. team meeting on Sunday less than 24 hours after the Apple Cup win with a different schedule. He’ll be going back to San Diego, he just needs to pack his helmet and flak jacket this time. Washington will play Nebraska on Dec. 30 in the Holiday Bowl, a rematch from the third week of this season during which the Huskers won 56-21.
“It’s really cool to be in there and have them explain this kind of stuff,” Locker said. “To be able to look at it and go, ‘We’re going to have practices here, these days are going to be off, you’re going to get money for this, we’re going to visit these places when we’re down there … it puts a smile on my face.”
Only Nebraska was smiling following the first meeting. Safety Nate Williams with a game recap: “They came in here and whooped us pretty good.”
Williams said several players, including himself, did not stick to their job. Washington had a hard time on defense tracking the ball carrier. It had a harder time on offense moving the ball. The combination leaves Washington after vengeance.
“I think we’ll definitely end up having a big chip on our shoulder,” Williams said.
The first loss against Nebraska left Washington coach Steve Sarkisian lighting up his team in a press conference 48 hours later. During his Monday sessions with the media, Sarkisian is ambitious to move on from Saturday, often talking about the “24-hour rule” win or lose. But following the lambasting by Nebraska, he remained upset, saying Washington did not compete in the second half.
“I don’t know if they respected us at the end of that game so it has been addressed and it won’t happen again,” Sarkisian said.
Washington now takes a break, not practicing again until Friday, prior to leaving for San Diego on Dec. 23.
The 26-day gap between games will allow Locker, among others, to heal up.
The Huskies had to win three consecutive just to have a shot at a bowl. Locker said that run, with two games won by Washington on its final offensive possession, is a large step for the program.
“I think it was really good for us as a team and a program because it’s something we haven’t dealt with well in the past,” Locker said.
Now, they can all pack the suntan lotion and join Locker in southern California for a different kind of holiday.