Editor's note: Had a personal issue to tend to Sunday. Apologize to the 24 readers of the UW blog who looked, and went away in disgust.
Isn't this where we thought the Huskies would be all along?
Explosive offense, with a relaxed, lethal, quick-twitching, quick-trigger quarterback in Jake Locker running the wheel.
OK defense with its issues, but getting enough (and in the case Saturday at USC, one or two) key stops to hold up its end.
It adds up to a 2-2 start, and revving up the discussion about the possibility of ending its bowl drought, dating back to 2002.
We're a short time away from UW coach Steve Sarkisian's weekly press conference Monday, so I'll make the observations quick:
• Simply, Locker was
any FBS coach in America would want in a signal caller. Never mind the statistics (although he posted his second career 300-yard passing, 100-yard rushing game) and pay attention to the intangibles.
The odd thing about the start of 2010 that had struck me was the ease in which defenders were getting their clean licks on Locker, especially when he took off running. He had become a purple-and-gold clad pinata on game days.
Those who paid attention saw the sheer joy USC defenders (notably Shareece Wright) got in knocking Locker down all over the field, and into the sidelines.
This time – and in a big way – Locker had the final say, recovering from a huge blow to the head, courtesy of Wright's leg in the fourth quarter to engineer the game-winning drive.
"He played well," USC linebacker Michael Morgan said. "He had to scramble a lot, and he waited for guys to get open in coverage. He played lights-out tonight."
Sarkisian's offensive game plan was exceptional against a fast and aggressive Trojans defense. Locker often had the space in shot gun to survey the field, and make the proper read, for starters. And tailback Jesse Callier's presence in the run game, particularly coming across from the outside in the "fly" sweep was enough to keep USC thinking a split second longer.
It was evident USC's focus on that play was Locker. That is why Callier was able to get to the edge with such ease, and pick up runs of 7, 8, 5 and 6 yards when Locker handed it off to him.
Who doesn't operate better facing a second-and-3 rather than a second-and-long?
Right now, I don't have the numbers to back it up. But it appears the Huskies are most efficient in their two-receiver personnel groupings (mainly Jermaine Kearse and Devin Aguilar). A big reason is that Sarkisian has the flexibility to mix and match the skill sets of the get-to-the-point-quickly Callier and the bullish Chris Polk, along with a tight end or fullback.
Sure, Locker still made his share of mistakes – errant passes, losing the ball on the 50-yard scamper that led to a USC touchback and a couple questionable decisions. But easily – the GOOD outweighed the BAD all the way around, especially since he gets such a high grade for dealing with the hits, the bruises and blood to lead the Huskies to a win.
"Couldn't be happier for (that) young man," Sarkisian said. "He showed us how big his heart was, that's for sure."
** MONDAY: Two quick things, the Oregon State kickoff Oct. 16 at Husky Stadium is at 7:15 p.m. Also, no official changes to the depth chart, but I suspect movement is coming maybe in the defensive backfield.