We've talked quite a bit about the Huskies this week, but it's always good to get an insider's perspective. So we caught up with John Berkowitz of UW Dawg Pound and asked him a few questions about his team. Dominic and I answered John's questions and they are now posted over there. Just remember when you head over, don't look directly into the dog's eyes!
1) Jake Locker has improved tremendously under Sark. In what area has this been seen the most, and what is his biggest weakness?
He has improved tremendously under Sark. Obviously the mechanics of simply throwing the ball accurately has been the biggest improvement. He has a cannon for an arm but the mechanics never improved under Willingham. He is a completely different QB this season who runs first and passes second. His biggest weakness has been decision making. It could be just learning a new offense but the facet of the game is still a work in progress. Jake makes great plays and other times you just have to shake your head. The more defensive pressure you can put on him the better it will be for Oregon on Saturday.
When the Huskies are in the red zone they don't have to worry about the long pass and that allows the defense to play with the front seven a lot more. We have problems in space in the secondary but when that space is limited we seem to do pretty well. Between the 20's we are rushing three or four against five or six to prevent the big play. Once a team gets down toward the end zone the schemes change and that works to UW's advantage. When our LB's aren't helping out with pass coverage they can really cause some havoc.
3) The Huskies haven't yet faced a spread attack like Oregon's this season. How will the Huskies attempt to slow down the Ducks?
I don't think we will slow the Ducks down much between the twenties. Oregon is going to get its yards on Saturday. The key for Washington all season is having a plus turn over ratio and turning proable 7's in the red zone into 3's. Masoli if he starts won't be nearly as mobile as he was early in the season. Washington needs to take some chances to take advantage of that. when the Oregon spread is working I don't think there is a better offense in college football. The last time the Ducks were in Seattle the Dixon led offense just blew me away. Your offense of course has only worked that efficiently once this season if you take WSU out of the equation.
4) There is a lot of heat on the Oregon side of the rivalry when the Husky game comes up, so much so that many Duck fans view Washington as a bigger rival than Oregon State. How does Husky Nation view the rivalry, especially in terms of Washington State?
It is a big game for Washington but not as big as Washington State for some reason for most Husky fans. I personally think it is a big game and I consider Oregon to be the more important rival. I would much rather go to a game in Eugene than in Pullman. I think what really bothers Oregon fans is that the Washington program and its fan base has historically looked down on Oregon. That old Washington arrogance that Duck fans complained about for so many years is very real. Oregon on the other hand cares a lot more about Washington than Washington cares about Oregon. Washington cares...but they are never going to give Duck fans the satisfaction of it being more important than any other Pac 10 game. I found it amusing when the Pac 10 went without a round robin schedule and Oregon wanted to schedule the Huskies as an OOC game in years when they were not scheduled to play. The tradition was more important to Oregon than it was to Washington who said we would rather take the year off. That rubbed a lot of Ducks the wrong way. Of course everything we do does that. Part of the charm of the rivalry.
5) What is your take on Jake Locker going pro? If he does decide to go out this year, what can we expect out of Washington in 2010?
Jake needs another year under Sark to refine his craft. That is complicated by the fact that this is a very weak year for QB prospects. Jake has the most potential of any college QB out there but if he was drafted he would have to sit on the bench a couple of years. He is not close to being ready for the next level. That being said there since there isn't a draft eligible QB this season that is ready his value has increased in the eyes of NFL scouts.
Ed. Check out this comment from the UW Dawg Pound article for more information on what the Husky QB situation could look like in 2010
6) Lastly, while UW isn't favored to win, they definitely have a shot. Who (outside of Locker) is going to need to have a big game for the Huskies to win?
Chris Polk needs to run the ball well on Saturday. Polk is an excellent running back but the key will be how well the offensive line clears room for him. Washington or any team for that matter plays better when they have a balanced on offense. In Washington's pro-set offense the run sets up a lot of play action which is really the key to making Washington's offense a lot more productive. Washington is deep and talented at the wide receiver position. Keep an eye on James Johnson, Jermaine Kearse, and Devin Aguilar. All three have been very solid this season. Aguilar is coming off a career game against ASU.