SEATTLE - Back to Washington Huskies football practice, back to questions about Jake Locker's health status.
On a three-game skid, UW enters this bye week with two primary aims – rest weary veteran starters and give hungry reserves, mainly the freshmen, more opportunities to move up the depth chart.
As for Locker, he fits into the pain-riddled veteran category. Sidelined with a broken rib injury for No. 1 Oregon’s 53-16 victory over the Huskies on Saturday, the senior quarterback from Ferndale will proceed this week with caution.
The team practiced Monday, and will do so again today and Wednesday before taking a couple of days off. Locker will not participate in any football-related activity this week.
By the weekend, when the Huskies fire up practices again in preparation for their Nov. 18 game against UCLA, UW coach Steve Sarkisian said he’ll have a better idea of Locker’s status.
“I’m not going to put him on the field if he hasn’t practiced,” Sarkisian said Monday. “That’s going to be critical as we get into Saturday, Sunday and Monday of where he’s at, and how much he can do.”
Locker injured his ribs in an Oct. 16 game against Oregon State, but continued to play through the injury. He took a few big shots the next week at Arizona, and the team medical staff concluded he had sustained a hairline fracture.
On Oct. 30 against Stanford, he took another hit that worsened the injury to a broken rib. That was when Sarkisian finally shut him down. Redshirt freshman Keith Price made his first start against the Ducks, and will continue to be the starter as long as Locker is out.
One guy who can relate to Locker’s plight is Damon Huard, the former UW quarterback from Puyallup who is now part of the university’s radio broadcasting team with Bob Rondeau.
Huard missed the final three games of the 1993 season with torn rib cartilage.
“It was tough to laugh, tough to cough, tough to get in and out of the car. So playing the quarterback position – twisting and turning and making every throw – it hurts even more,” Huard said. “When you’re younger, you heal up faster, obviously.”
Fully recovered or not, will Locker push to play his final home game? Locker’s already done that, Sarkisian said.
“We could make a mistake here of putting all of our eggs in Jake Locker’s basket. That’s not what the point of all of this is about,” Sarkisian said. “If we get Jake back, that’s great – we’d love to have him. He’s a fantastic football player. But if we don’t, that doesn’t mean we can’t win the game.
“This isn’t going to be an emotional decision. It will be a calculated, educated decision.”
UW AD APOLOGIZES
Washington athletic director Scott Woodward issued an apology Monday after he said “it’s an embarrassment what (Oregon’s) academic institution is, and what’s happened to them as far as their state funding has gone. In my mind it’s a wonderful athletic facility but they’ve watched it at the expense of the university go really down” in a radio interview Saturday.
“I apologize if my comments were found as critical or insulting to fans and alumni of the University of Oregon, and I hope to offer some clarity about my true feelings on the situation,” Woodward’s statement said. “I have a great respect for the University of Oregon both as an institution and an athletic program.”
The career of defensive end Cameron Elisara (shoulder) is over. The recurring “stinger” he suffered against Arizona will sideline him the rest of the season. The Spokane product played 38 games for the Huskies, including 21 starts. Receiver Jordan Polk (head) should be OK for the UCLA game after suffering a concussion in practice last week. Tight end Chris Izbicki (sprained foot) and safety Justin Glenn (head) are still questionable, although Izbicki practiced Monday. Running back Jesse Callier (shoulder) wore the protective red jersey, and did not practice. Much speculation has been made about the jerseys the Huskies will don for the UCLA game. When asked after his radio show Monday, Sarkisian responded, “There will be a black theme.” A black jersey with purple numbers and gold trim has been on sale the past few weeks. Because of limited parking around Husky Stadium for the UCLA game (5 p.m. kickoff), UW officials are asking fans to sign up for shuttle service by Monday. For information, go to www.gohuskies.com/transportation/ucla.html
Todd Milles: 253-597-8442 firstname.lastname@example.org blog.thenewstribune.com/uwsports