November 1, 2010

Cracked rib to sideline Locker

Jake Locker spent Monday afternoon inside the University of Washington's spacious indoor practice facility standing on the sideline.

It's a vantage point the Huskies' senior quarterback will become familiar with over the next few weeks.

The Huskies disclosed Monday that Locker had a cracked rib, which will keep their best player off the field Saturday when Washington tries to keep up with the No. 1-ranked Oregon Ducks in Eugene, Ore.

Locker's performance has suffered the past two weeks while he played through the pain of sore ribs and sore thigh muscle, and he went into Saturday's game against Stanford at Husky Stadium knowing that he had a hairline fracture in his rib.

But the rib pain intensified during the pounding Locker received in the Huskies' 41-0 loss to the Cardinal, and an x-ray revealed the broken rib.

Huskies coach Steve Sarkisian told Locker on Sunday that he'd be out at least until the UCLA game Nov. 18. The Huskies have a bye week after the Oregon game.

"He was pretty shook up about it," Sarkisian said. "As you guys know, Jake is a courageous guy, a competitive guy, extremely loyal. The thing that bothers him the most is that he feels like maybe he's letting his teammates down, and his team, they don't feel that way at all about it. They understand that, 'Man, this is the right thing to do for him, this is the right thing to do for us as we continue to move forward.' Hopefully we'll get him back here in a few weeks for the UCLA game."

Locker began the season as a Heisman Trophy hopeful, however, he and the Huskies (3-5) have ridden a roller coaster season that has jumped the tracks and crash landed the past two weeks.

Locker was 7 of 14 for 64 yards and was intercepted twice against Stanford as Washington managed only 107 yards of total offense. Locker also got hit hard on several occasions and was sacked three times.

"He took a couple pretty good shots," Sarkisian said. "That kind of escalated this thing to a whole another level for us. It's unfortunate. I know Jake wants to be out there in the worst way, but this is the right thing to do."

Locker said he is hoping to be back for the UCLA game, which would be his final game at Husky Stadium.

Locker had envisioned better things for his senior year after the Huskies finished 5-7 in Sarkisian's first year as Washington's coaching following the UW's winless season in 2008.

That is why he bypassed the NFL draft last year and returned to Washington for his senior year.

"It's not how you would have wanted to draw it up," Locker said. "But I said at the time of my decision, and I'll stick to it now: I don't regret it. I wouldn't do it any different. We still have a lot to play for in this season."

Making his first college start against Oregon will be redshirt freshman Keith Price, who has worked extensively with the Huskies' first unit this past month while Locker has been slowed by injuries.

Moving into the No. 2 slot at quarterback is true freshman Nick Montana, whom the Huskies would like to redshirt.

Price has played sparingly this season but did throw a touchdown pass in his only snap of the Huskies' victory over USC this season.

"As we've always said, 'Nothing is easy,'" Sarkisian said. "This is hard. It's going to be hard, a great challenge. But one of the unique qualities Keith has is he is a very positive young man. He's always bright eyed and has a great smile on his face. He doesn't tend to get rattled by things. I think that type of an approach is one that you really need going into Autzen Stadium."


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