The ninth of a 10-part series that looks at where Pac-10 teams are strongest and weakest as they begin spring practices.
Strong: Jake Locker
Why it's a strength: Well, when you have a senior quarterback who is the potential top pick in the 2011 NFL draft you might feel fairly good about things. Locker rushed for 388 yards and seven touchdowns last fall and completed 58 percent of his passes for 2,800 yards and 21 scores. Those numbers almost certainly will go up in Year 2 under coach Steve Sarkisian. But it's even more than that. Locker's supporting cast was young and promising in 2009, so it could take a big step toward fulfilling star potential in 2010. Locker doesn't have to run all the time because sophomore running back Chris Polk rushed for 1,113 yards. Receivers? Everyone is back, including the Pac-10's No. 4 receiver, Jermaine Kearse, and its seventh, Devin Aguilar. They combined to catch 13 TD passes in 2009. Moreover, receiver James Johnson and tight end Kavario Middleton appear poised for breakthroughs. If the line, which is thin but returns four starters, holds up, Locker and the Huskies should be able to score a lot of points.
Weak: Defensive end
Why it's a weakness: The Huskies lose both starting defensive ends, most particularly Daniel Te'o-Nesheim, the Husky career sacks leader who finished second in the Pac-10 with 11 sacks and earned second-team all-conference honors. The backups combined for four sacks: sophomore Talia Crichton, junior Kalani Aldrich and sophomore Andru Pulu. Moreover, Pulu is presently suspended for a violation of team rules and Aldrich has been troubled with knee problems. It's possible some guys will get shifted around, including Everrette Thompson, who played inside at tackle last year. And it's likely some of the incoming players will get an early shot to contribute (maybe Darius Waters?)