Jake Locker knows things are being said about him.
Whether it’s being discussed on sports talk radio, posted on the internet message boards, reported in the newspaper or uttered amongst the fans of the Husky nation, his awful performance in Saturday’s 56-21 loss to Nebraska at Husky Stadium has been an endlessly discussed subject.
Most of it hasn’t necessarily been positive. Then again when you're fifth-year senior that was a preseason Heisman contender and complete just 4-of-20 passes in a game, criticism is going to come.
Locker admitted it’s part of the job.
“Yeah, I know it,” he said.
Locker is choosing to embrace Steve Sarkisian’s philosophy of forgetting all games – won or lost – after 24 hours.
“Obviously you think about it right after and watch the film and see what you can learn from,” Locker said. “But if you dwell on it it's going to continue to beat you.”
So what did he see on the film, particularly that first interception he threw into obvious double coverage on the Huskies’ first offensive play.
"I wish I hadn't thrown the first one,” Locker said. “He was well-covered. The guy made a really good play, and was in perfect position. Yeah, it’s probably a throw that if I could have had back, I wouldn't have thrown it.''
Of course, I think we all know the Nebraska defense had plenty to do with some of the struggles. Locker said as much.
“It was probably the best one I've seen since I've been in school her,” he said. “They played really well and we reverted back to some things that we haven't been doing the first couple of weeks, mistakes and mental errors that will cost you against a football team like that. Against a good football team like that, they will make you look like that.''
The Huskers made Locker look unsure of himself and hesitant, and certainly not worthy of being the first overall pick of next year’s NFL draft that some people have projected. Of course, it's one game. Here's part of what ESPN's Todd McShay had to say ...
In Locker's defense, the Huskies were completely outclassed from a talent standpoint on both sides of the ball, especially in the trenches. Nine of his 17 misses were a result of poor pass protection and/or his receivers failing to get open. However, Locker was squarely to blame for the eight other misfires, which ranged from errant throws to poor field vision to terrible decisions under pressure.
During the offseason, I studied all 12 of Locker's 2009 games on coach's copy tape. As is the case with any college quarterbacks, there were some peaks and valleys, but at no point in those 12 games did Locker appear to be as flustered and out of control as he was versus Nebraska. Locker is clearly pressing. The game is speeding up rather than slowing down in his mind, which is causing him to rush his reads, abandon his footwork and force throws into passing windows that are too tight.
From a NFL draft perspective, it is too early to hit the panic button. Locker and Huskies coach Steve Sarkisian still have nine regular-season games remaining to right the ship. However, concerns are mounting among NFL scouts, particularly regarding Locker's lack of consistency and on-the-field production. Strong recent showings from fellow draft-eligible quarterbacks Mallett and Andrew Luck of Stanford are not helping Locker's cause, eitherOf course, Mel Kiper had his thoughts as well. ...
Even if you try to avoid the numbers and concentrate purely on the talent, it's impossible to look past a guy completing just 4 of 20 passes with two interceptions. What we witnessed on Saturday are the same issues he's had throughout his college career. The first is lack of top accuracy. Having a rifle arm means little if you can't put the football where it needs to be consistently. Granted, there were situations on Saturday when the protection broke down and Locker's best option was simply to get rid of the ball. But there were other occasions when he had ample time and was just off the mark.
And of coursemy buddy Rob Rang at NFLdraftscout.com
Take away the 45-yard touchdown pass thrown to receiver Jermaine Kearse in the third quarter and Locker threw for only 26 yards in a game in which the Huskies trailed for all but the first two minutes (technically, 2:11).
But, forget the final statistics for a moment.
Locker's first throw of the game demonstrated exactly why scouts will be dropping him.
Dropping back, Locker surveyed the field and with solid protection he calmly lofted a deep pass over the middle into double coverage. The throw was easily intercepted by safety Eric Hagg.
It was a throw that never should have been made. Not by a fifth-year senior. Certainly not by one projected to be the first pick of the 2011 NFL draft.Still, a plummeting draft stock could cost Lockers hundreds of thousands of dollars in his first NFL contract. But he wouldn’t hear of any talks of regret for coming back for his senior season.
"No, no, no, not at all.” he said. “Like I've told you guys before, I made the decision because it was what I knew I wanted to do no matter what the outcome was. Obviously it was a tough game, but a game I think I will be better for going forward. I will learn a lot from it and it will make me a better football player and allow me to grow as a football player and that's what I'm able to take from it.''
So any more talk about the loss to Nebraska or his dreadful performance all seems pointless to Locker. He and his teammates are moving on.
“There's nothing I can do about it now,” he said. “There's nothing any of us can do about it now. You don't gain anything personally or as a football team sitting and wondering what if. The best thing is to look ahead and see what we can improve on and try and grow as a football team, and dwelling on that is not going to help us.''
And while some people may be panicking, Locker and his teammates aren’t.
“There's a lot of season left,” he said. “We've played three football games to this point. The season is not lost. There are a lot of things for this football team to look forward to. We just need to keep working hard, practicing hard, preparing really well and going out and giving good effort on Saturdays."