A certain level of comfort came with having Jake Locker back in the huddle Thursday. He's a veteran. He's an established leader. And even if his track record has been spotty, he knows how to win football games in the Pacific-10 Conference.
But his return to full health - and effectiveness - is clearly a gradual process.
The run game spearheaded the offense in the Huskies' 24-7 victory over UCLA. Of the team's 321 total yards, 253 came on the ground, led by Chris Polk (138 yards) and Jesse Callier (107).
Meanwhile, Locker was obviously off - he completed 10 of his 21 passes for 68 yards with an interception. It was his second-worst showing since the Nebraska debacle.
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And on Monday, despite a dissenting opinion from the quarterback, UW coach Steve Sarkisian admitted that Locker's broken rib has had an effect on his accuracy.
"Whether it's a direct effect, the feeling that you have when you throw, there can be an effect on (in that) we are all human," Sarkisian said. "When you have pain - if I've got a hurt arm here, I really don't want you to hit it, so you can move your body in a certain way to try to avoid hits, or feeling a sense of hits. So I think that feeling is there."
The proof is the error. When Locker labored through the Nebraska game, "bouncy" footwork led to high, errant passes to the receivers. The coaching staff reasoned afterward that it was a direct result of the quarterback not being fully certain that the pass protection would serve him as bulletproof.
On Thursday, again the incompletions were often too high off the mark (three of them, to be exact). He also should have been picked off two more times - by Tony Dye in the first quarter and Aaron Hester in the second quarter.
A full extra day of rest has helped - Sarkisian said the senior looked extremely sharp in practice Sunday.
"The more healthy he gets, the more comfortable he feels with the rib and the injury, the more comfortable he will be in the pocket," Sarkisian said. "And ultimately, his feet will be better, his decision-making will be better and his accuracy will be better."
* A few key players will be evaluated throughout the week with their injuries, notably left guard Ryan Tolar (sprained knee) and safeties Justin Glenn (concussion) and Sean Parker (shoulder).
Parker did not play against the Bruins.
"(He) didn't get strength back," Sarkisian said.
Erik Kohler shifted over to left guard for practice Monday and ran with the No. 1 offense.
* Reported grumblings after surfaced out of the UCLA camp over UW safety Nate Williams' head-to-head smash into quarterback Richard Brehaut on the Bruins' first drive of the second half that resulted in a 15-yard personal foul penalty.
It came on Brehaut's 6-yard scramble, and the hit knocked the quarterback out of the game with a concussion.
Sarkisian said while the hit was illegal, it was, by no means, ill-intended.
"Nate didn’t intend to go helmet-to-helmet with Richard. He had already started his tackle before the slide began to occur," Sarkisian said. "And really, ultimately, I think it was more of a targeting of the head with his forearm than it was helmet-to-helmet, in a sense. It’s unfortunate. I think that’s why when quarterbacks decide to slide, they really need to make that decision early. If not, sometimes guys are better off diving than they are sliding."
* Heisman vote? If Sarkisian had one ...
"I haven’t been able to follow it," Sarkisian said, "but just based on watching a guy play, I’d have a hard time voting against Cam Newton, just because I’ve seen him play three or four times. He’s a dominant football player, that’s for sure."