PROBABLE STARTERS vs. USC:
^ indicates fifth-year senior
WR 5 Anthony Russo 5-11 185 ^Sr. - and -
18 Corey Williams 6-2 195 ^Sr. (may start as 3rd WR in place of TE)
LT 79 Ben Ossai 6-6 300 Jr.
LG 65 Ryan Tolar 6-5 310 So.
C 58 Juan Garcia 6-3 315 ^Sr.
RG 72 Casey Bulyca 6-6 340 Sr.
RT 75 Chad Macklin 6-8 300 ^Sr.
TE 86 Michael Gottlieb 6-5 245 Sr.
QB 10 Jake Locker 6-3 225 So.
TB 9 Louis Rankin 6-0 205 ^Sr.
FB 30 Paul Homer 6-0 222 So.
WR 3 Marcel Reece 6-3 240 Sr.
Best Offensive Player: QB Jake Locker
Quarterback -- Redshirt freshman Jake Locker, a.k.a. "The West Coast version of Tim Tebow" is the player that makes this offense go. He leads the team in rushing yards as well as passing yards out of that "Shotgun Spread" formation. This, however, is not your typical dual-threat QB, as seen by the comparisons to Tebow. He's very physical when running with the ball. Locker will often times choose to run through defenders, rather than sliding or stepping out of bounds. He has gotten better every week in the passing game, and growing more and more comfortable with the offense. He is still young though, and will continue to make mistakes as he develops as a passer. In their week 3 loss to Ohio State, Locker threw 3 second half INT's after Washington entered the half with a 7-3 lead. Last week against fucla, Locker threw 2 more INT's in a 44-31 loss. In their two losses, Locker has completed less than 50 % of his passes (33-69) along with his 5 INT's. In the 2 wins, Locker completed 27 out of 44 passes and surrendered just one INT. It will be interesting to see if Locker takes care of the football on Saturday, because his rushing has been consistent. Locker's season low in rushing yards is 83 in the opener against Syracuse. He is averaging 90 rushing yards per game and has 3 rushing TD's.
Running Game -- Clearly, the Huskies' rushing attack revolves around Locker. Locker leads the team with 393 rushing yards, followed by tailback Louis Rankin's 291. These two players are the most frequent ball carriers (Locker 55 carries, Rankin 62 carries), and account for 159 of Washington's 175 rushing yards per game. They can do a variety of things out that shotgun formation they run. Locker is deadly with the "zone read option" play, where he can choose to either hand the ball off to Rankin, or keep it himself if the defense over-pursues. They also like to use him on designed QB runs and draws when the defense is spread too far out. Their goal is to spread out defenses with their formations, and then run it between the tackles. USC must maintain its discipline and play assignment football against Washington. If they get you to over-pursue or rush up-field, it will open up running lanes.
Passing Game -- For being a first year starter, Locker seems pretty composed in the pocket. He is coming off of a 216 yard and 4 TD performance in the loss to fucla, although he did throw those two INT's. USC is banged up in the secondary, so this might be the game for him to make a name for himself if the Trojans can't genereate any pressure up front. The Huskies have given up six sacks in 4 games. When given time to throw, Locker has made some big plays. His two favorite targets have been Anthony Russo (18 catches, 240 yards, 3 TD's) and Marcel Reese (17 catches, 279 yards, 2 TD's), no one else had double-digit receptions. Russo longest catch on the year has been 63 yards, while Reese has a long of 58 yards.
Thursday night we'll look at the Washington defense...