Let's get back to the glass half full, rather than the glass half empty with a positional update of the squad going into camp this August.
We start off with the quarterback position because the hopes of the offense will once again be riding on the shoulders of Jake Locker.
QB Jake Locker SO
QB Ronnie Fouch RS
QB Dominique Blackman FR
QB Luther Leonard FR
Jake had a decent Spring, but like the rest of the offense was hampered by the weather. In most scrimmages the defense was clearly ahead of the offense. We all know Jake can run the ball, and we all know he will make better decisions running the ball in 2008. The question is will his passing percentage improve?
For UW to get anywhere they need to catch the ball better in 2008, and only one player looked like a sure thing to catch the ball this spring and that was D'Andre Goodwin who emerged as Jakes favorite target this Spring. We will talk more about the WR's in a later article, but they are a huge part of the picture in Jakes improvement, and development.
For Jake to take his game to the Heisman level, and we all feel he has the ability to do that, the game has to slow down for him. Take Dennis Dixon for example, the game didn't slow down for him till he was a senior, and I don't think there was a better QB, or team in the country until he went down. When Dixon went down the Ducks went down with him. It was very easy to see how much he elevated the play of the entire team when he was in the game. Locker has the ability to do that much earlier in his career. I didn't see the light quite go on for Jake this Spring, but I am betting that sometime next season once he gets a little more experience under his belt it is going to happen. Jake is going to be phenomenal his junior season, and senior seasons if he stays on campus that long.
Looking to 2008 we are going to see a more accurate passer, and a QB with a much better command of the offense as a whole. Jake is still going to run, and don't be surprised to see him gain as much as 1000 yards on the ground this season. I would like him to use his TE's more since the enrollment of Kavario Middleton will give him a big athletic target. I would like him to dump it off more to his slot backs (Polk, Shaw) who have tremendous speed. I want to see him use the fullback over the middle more in the passing game. I think using these targets will allow the young receivers on the ends more time to get used to the speed, and toughness of Pac Ten football.
Behind Jake is Ronnie Fouch who had a very nice Spring game. I think Ronnie will start a year or two before he leaves Washington, but right now he is still a raw young guy that needs a lot more development. If Jake goes down he will get the development, but the offense will be in trouble because Jake is simply a much better player at this point. Fouch showed us a lot of improvement this Spring. He picks things up quickly, and is throwing the ball better. He isn't Jake, but he has good feet and knows how to use them.
Behind Fouch are two true frosh who will be sitting on the bench all season if we are lucky. Leonard has some good skills and a strong arm, but it will take at least a couple of years before he is ready. Leonard has decent wheels so I could see him on defense if he gets buried in depth at QB.
Blackman is big for a QB, very big, so big in fact in a lot of ways he reminds me of Jeremy Stevens who started off as a QB only to switch to TE. Dominique ran into some off field trouble last Summer, and had to sit out some time as a punishment. His star rating plumented as a result.
The Huskies have little depth at QB so both of these guys are going to spend the entire year here, but I see them as good athletes who could migrate depending on need and development.
Look for the Huskies to bring in a California HS QB this Winter. The next local phenom on the horizon is Jake Heaps from Skyline (not Eastlake) who will be one of the top QB's in the country in 2010. With his old HS head coach on the staff it isn't hard to believe that he wil be wearing purple and gold in the future.