So let's start this short game week with another Jake Locker update from Montlake courtesy of Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times:
Most notably, QB Jake Locker again practiced, appearing to split reps with Keith Price, another step on the way to being able to play Thursday against UCLA. UW coach Steve Sarkisian was not available to the media tonight since this was essentially a Tuesday practice (the day he doesn't speak) so there wasn't anything new from him on Locker. [...]
Also, safety Sean Parker appeared to get hurt and was replaced in the nickel by fellow true frosh Taz Stevenson. UW already thin at safety with Justin Glenn still out with a concussion suffered against Oregon.
We will keep tracking the coach speak and gamesmanship from Sarkisian over next 48 hours but I think it is pretty safe to say that the chances of Locker starting against UCLA is probably over 95 percent. Sark is going to play Jake no matter what.
The injury situation for the Huskies secondary should be an item of interest for Norm Chow and his UCLA offense. Washington has already been reeling all season with the second worst defense in the Pac-10 conference (giving up 440 yards per game). Washington DC Nick Holt had some nice things to say about UCLA offense in response to a silly question:
On what UCLA does that's different from Oregon: "They have a lot of similar runs, but they aren't as up-tempo, and they don't spread you out as much with the open sets. And Oregon's quarterback run a little faster than what we'll see this week. But they have some very similar, taxing plays - and we have to do a nice job."
I wonder who was the rocket scientist who thought about mentioning Oregon's offense in the same breath as our clunker. I'd love to think that some time in near future our offense will approach the game with the same aggressive mindset Ducks bring to every series. One would think, that this would be a great week for Norm Chow to really get the offense clicking, going up against Washington team that has been struggling all season.
As for our guys, UCLA came back to Spaulding on Sunday afternoon after taking couple of days off. Bruins went back to practices against the scout team and away from the 1 on 1s from the bye week that really ginned up the intensity few days ago. Here is Coach Rick Neuheisel's comments following yesterday's practice:
Notice how it was Chris Foster who annoyingly kept bringing up the bowl game question. Neuheisel was perfectly content talking about practices and keep the focus on Washington while Foster kept bringing up the bowl game issue without showing the slightest interest in hearing Neuheisel's thoughts on Washington. Then after he was done Foster wrote up a useless "UCLA report" weaving his own storyline as if UCLA was thinking more about the bowl game than focusing on Washington (he didn't make that case directly but his lead grafs certainly implied it). Nowhere in Foster's questioning or report there is the slightest hint of an effort to understand or find out how the Bruins are preparing for Washington.
Anyway, Foster's colleague Jill Painter from the LA Daily News (covering the beat in place of Jon Gold, who had the day off) made some effort to think about Thursday night's game. She looked up the weather report for Montlake and found out there is a "50 percent chance of rain" this Thursday night in Seattle. So she asked Richard Brehaut about playing in the rain:
"Last year, we had a couple of games where it was supposed to rain, so we practiced with some wet balls and stuff like that," Brehaut said. "It shouldn't be too much of a problem. I know what it's like. You can't have too much pressure on your fingers when you're holding the ball, otherwise it will slip right out. I'm used to it."
Brehaut estimated he played in two high school games in the rain for Los Osos in Alta Loma. UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel, the former Washington coach, didn't seem worried about the weather.
Well that was really helpful. Anyway, looks like major news related update from yesterday's practice was on the injury front. From Peter Yoon of ESPNLA:
*Linebacker Steve Sloan fully practiced for the first time since a strained hamstring knocked him out of the Arizona game Oct. 30. He worked with the second team at middle linebacker while freshman Jordan Zumwalt continued to get the first-team reps. "It was a pretty bad strain," Sloan said. "It popped and did all that stuff. I was supposed to be out a lot longer, but I feel great." Sloan says he is not concerned about whether he gets his starting spot back. "When I went out, Zumwalt stepped right up to the plate and played a great game," he said. "Coach is going to do what's best for the team. I have full faith in Zumwalt how he played."
*Middle linebacker Patrick Larimore, out since dislocating his shoulder Oct. 21 against Oregon, spoke to a family doctor about the possibility of surgery and Neuheisel said they would make a decision early this week. "He's hopeful that he can hang around and make something still of this season," Neuheisel said. Neuheisel added that no matter the decision, Larimore is questionable to play Thursday against Washington.
It would be good to get Sloan back for depth purposes at LB. Also Yoon reported that Dalton Hilliard "is fully recovered" from concussion which is really good news. I thought Hilliard made a huge impact earlier in the year before he went down with his shoulder injury. Having both Riley and Hilliard in the lineup should present some solid options for Chuck Bullough, if he is creative enough to maximize the talent at his disposal.