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Opening the mailbag: Locker vs Tuiasosopo

4/29/2011

Welcome to the weekend that ends spring football and sends us -- officially -- into the offseason.

I know: Yikes!

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To the notes!

Brian from Portland writes: Ted, can you please compare and contrast Jake Locker with Marques Tuiasosopo? I recall Tuiasosopo putting up impressive numbers at UW, including a 300/200 passing/rushing game, yet he was drafted late in the second round. What did Locker show scouts that Tuiasosopo didn't?

Ted Miller: Interesting question. My first response is Locker and Tuiasosopo are fairly similar, only Locker is slightly better -- bigger, stronger, faster -- by most physical measures. Oh, and their supporting casts at Washington were a bit different.

Tuiasosopo was not a great "pure" quarterback. But he was something more important: He was a winner, a guy who was at his best when the pressure was on. Yet while he finished eighth in the Heisman Trophy voting in 2000 -- the Huskies finished ranked No. 3 in the nation after winning the Rose Bowl -- his numbers were fairly pedestrian. He ranked 66th in the nation in passing efficiency, completing just 52.6 percent of his throws for 2,146 yards with 14 touchdowns and 11 picks. He also rushed for 394 yards and six scores.

This past season, Locker had a higher efficiency rating -- 124.2 versus 115.9 -- but ranked 73rd in the nation. He competed 55.4 percent of his passes for 2,265 yards with 17 touchdowns and nine interceptions. He also rushed for 385 yards and six touchdowns.

Note: Locker's official stats include 13 games, compared to just 11 for Tuiasosopo (bowls didn't count in 2000; including the Rose Bowl, Tuiasosopo passed for 2,284 yards, competed 53.9 percent of his passes with 15 touchdowns and 11 INTs and rushed for 469 yards and seven touchdowns ).

So these numbers are comparable, practically a push.

Tuiasosopo was 6-foot-1, 220. Locker is 6-3, 230. Both were good, physical runners, but Locker is more of a weapon -- faster, more elusive. Recall that Locker rushed for 986 yards in 2007. He runs as well as a running back.

They also are very similar in "makeup." Both came from great families. Both are humble, team-first, high-character guys who were the unquestioned leader in the locker room.

So what's the biggest difference? Well, for one, they played in different eras of the Pac-10 and of Huskies football. Washington was a national power in 2000. At that point, the program hadn't suffered a losing season since 1976. Tuiasosopo played behind a far better offensive line (though you could make a case Locker had better skill players surrounding him, at least this past season).

But the thing that separates them in the eyes of NFL scouts is simple: Upside. Locker has a better arm and better physical skills than Tuiasosopo.

Tuiasosopo played in the NFL from 2001-08, but he never really got to showcase his chief attribute: Finding ways to win. He only passed for 554 yards and two touchdowns in six seasons. I always wondered what might have been if he'd landed in the right situation.

I honestly have no idea what Locker will do in the NFL. While more than a few folks have made me out to be some sort of booster for Locker, I was fairly shocked when the "top pick in the draft" talk started in 2009 after the upset of USC. Obviously, folks who know a lot more about football than me think he'll do pretty well, starting with the Tennessee Titans.


Duber1 from Junction City, Ore., writes: congrats on getting jake locker drafted 8th,,,,,, dont mean you were not an ass about the flat world comment. I know i have been an ass,,,,,,,, & it doesnt mean i wont continuously call you out on your husky crap,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, have a nice day,,,,,,,,,,,,, sincerely comma guy.

Ted Miller: The comma guy!

I had little to do with Locker getting drafted eighth, though it would be great if he'd send a check, believing I did.

As for the "flat world" line, I've never understood why it so fired up a couple of folks, such as the ubiquitous Mr. "Duber." My point was always this: A. Just about every football expert thought highly of Locker heading into the 2010 season; I was merely reporting what they were saying. B. The most vocal Locker doubters, those who constantly ranted about Locker on the blog, had a single common characteristic: They were big Oregon fans.

My feeling was that none of the "Locker stinks!", "Locker is overrated!" noise that was being sent my way emerged from an objective, unemotional position of "Here's what I think...." It was all, "Huskies stink!" So it didn't feel valid.

It's just like Washington fans taking shots at Joey Harrington. Harrington was a great guy and a great college quarterback and most of us were surprised he never broke through in the NFL. But if a Washington fan had gone nuts railing about Harrington being terrible back in 2001, I also would have identified that as a "the world is flat" opinion.


Aaron from Pacific City, Ore., writes: I enjoy you blog but what's the deal?? You have had a ton of coverage of spring football on almost every team in the Pac-12 not named Oregon State. Are you even going to make it up here this spring, we only have one more practice/scrimmage?

Ted Miller: I visited eight Pac-12 schools this spring but didn't go to the Northwest. ESPN.com's Ivan Maisel, you may have noticed, is making a Northwest swing, which resulted in stories on Washington, Oregon State and an upcoming one on Oregon.

Hopefully, I will be able to get to the Northwest during preseason practices.


Rob from Phoenix writes: Ted, A. Is Arizona headed into underrated/sleeper status going into this year?B. Do you think that the schlerotic playcalling will improve on offense? They put up a ton of yards when Foles was able to decide who to throw to, but they had just as many ineffective drives that led to punts where they ran the ball poorly or proscribed Foles, generally excellent, decision making by throwing an innumerable number of WR screens or quick outs. Our offense was in the big money or the poor house and rarely in between.

Ted Miller: "Schlerotic playcalling"? Did you mean schlieric, which would be an interesting way of saying "streaky." Or sclerotic, which means "hardened"?

As for the Wildcats being sleepers: Maybe. But most will project Arizona in the middle of the Pac-12 South Division until we get a look at how the five new starters on the offensive line look. And it doesn't help that the Wildcats lost two defensive starters -- linebacker Jake Fischer and free safety Adam Hall -- to knee injuries this spring.

As for the play calling, coach Mike Stoops told me this: "We were trying to mix and match too much last year. We got discombobulated, I think. We got exposed late in the year on some things. [Offensive coordinator Seth Littrell] has to grow into this position and have total control with Nick. We need to all be on the same page."

It sounds like there were some discussions between Stoops and Littrell about play calling, and Littrell said as much to me, his operative word being "simplify."

My guess is the Wildcats are going to look a bit like old-school Texas Tech under pass-happy Mike Leach this fall, with Foles passing for over 4,000 yards. Will that put them in the thick of the South race? It might, but my present position is wait and see.


Jeremy from Salem, Ore., writes: I remember when this whole conference realignment thing was going on there was talk about moving the annual Utah-Colorado game to the beginning of the year so that Utah could play BYU and Colorado could play Colorado State at the end of the year. Then I haven't heard anything else about it since then. Did that fall through or something? Do you know anything else about it?

Ted Miller: One problem with that plan: Colorado and Colorado State have already scheduled early-season games through 2015. Further, there's a bit of a back-and-forth going on between Utah and BYU over their rivalry. It's only contracted through 2012.

The odds of BYU and Utah ending their annual game, one of the nation's great rivalries, seems remote, particularly with BYU now afforded the scheduling flexibility of an independent team. But there are a lot of moving parts to scheduling, so the scenario you write about may take a while to put in place -- or if the parties involved will even try to work it out that way.


Paul from Eugene, Ore., writes: hey ted i just wanted to share this story with you because it isnt a hugely publicized story on a few of oregon's players.

Ted Miller: Duly noted.

Most Pac-12 teams do a lot more in the community than they are given credit for. Good job, Cliff Harris, Darron Thomas and Dion Jordan.