Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Midseason report: Washington
By ESPN.com staff
Record: 2-3, 1-1 Pac-10
It didn't take long for high preseason expectations to take a hit for both Washington and quarterback Jake Locker. A 23-17 loss at BYU in the season-opener, in which the Huskies had plenty of opportunities to win, was humbling and in retrospect it was even more revealing in a negative way because the Cougars clearly aren't very good.
But the Huskies bounced back with a solid win over Syracuse (a team that, now 4-1, was probably better than it was given credit for in advance). That set up the marquee game with Nebraska, which was widely seen as major measuring stick for the program and Locker -- who was touted as the potential No. 1 overall pick in the 2011 NFL draft.
Splat. Locker turned in his worst performance at Washington and the Huskies were whipped 56-21. Still, two weeks later, Locker was outstanding while leading the Huskies to a clutch win at then-unbeaten USC. Perhaps the Huskies were good, just not as good as Nebraska? Then they lost at home to Arizona State, with Locker struggling, though that could have been due in part to being ill.
What's clear: Washington can win when it plays well but the program has not yet arrived, particularly on both lines. It will take a strong second-half run -- including an upset or two -- to earn bowl eligibility.
Offensive MVP: It hasn't been the year -- at least so far -- that anyone imagined for Locker. He appeared primed for a breakout season as he led the Huskies back into national relevance. While he has underperformed, he is still the Huskies centerpiece -- as he goes, so goes Washington. He's passed for 229 yards per game with eight touchdowns and three interceptions while also rushing for 213 yards (4.3 yards per carry) with three scores.
Defensive MVP: Linebacker Mason Foster leads the Pac-10 by a wide margin with 60 total tackles, which is a stout average of 12 per game. He also has 4.5 tackles for a loss, two sacks and two forced fumbles. The Huskies defense has struggled. Foster has not.