3 games into the 2010 Huskies season, I am not ready to say this team is destined for a Mariner-esque flop, but the similarities are there; year 2 of the new regime, Locker is back (kind of like the Cliff Lee acquisition), and expectations are high following a promising first year. Now that Washington is 1-2 and headed to USC in 2 weeks, the Seattle sports fan in me can’t help but think of what became of the M’s this year. Following Saturday’s debacle, it occurred to me that Nebraska may have exposed our true colors. Whether the Huskies rally around this “reality check” remains to be seen, but I’m wondering if my perception of this team, and Jake Locker, may be a bit off. Should 6-6 be the realistic goal in year 2 of the Sark era? Will Jake ever reach his potential while at UW? Is the defense any better? Through 3 weeks, these are questions I am asking.
When you follow a team closely in sports, perception and reality tend to blur. It’s what being a homer is all about; You view your own higher than others do. Following the Huskies closely like I do, of course I am inclined to drink the Kool-Aid. Ask me in August and I’d say our wide receivers are a superb group, that our coaching is top notch, our quarterback is the best in the nation, and our secondary is solid. Maybe some of this is true, maybe it isn’t. One thing is certain, perception and reality often differ.
When it comes to Jake Locker, I love the guy. Heck, my dog is named after him. I love that he picked UW over the likes of USC, that he stuck through these hard times, and that he came back for his senior season. I love his humility, his grit, and leadership. I will love Jake at the next level, and will cheer for him no matter what team he plays for. He is a martyr for Husky nation. But my perception of Jake as the best quarterback in the nation may not be reality. Heck, he may not even be a top 3 QB in his conference.
Is Jake better today than say, Kellen Moore? Comparing the two is tough given the talent that surrounds them, and the system they each play in. We know Locker has sky high potential, but the reality is he will probably not reach his peak in college, whereas a player like Kellen Moore most likely will. Jake will be drafted high because of his potential in 5 years, not for what he accomplishes in college. Some players are perfect for the college game (i.e. Eric Crouch, Kellen Moore, Jason White), but not a fit for the NFL, for various reasons. Jake is definitely not one of these players, but at the given time, Moore may be the better quarterback. One bad week should not make or break a player’s image, but it makes you wonder what the reality is.
All this to say, the hype that surrounded this team has taken a hit, and the image of what this team can actually accomplish is gaining clarity. If UW gets blown out at USC and Locker has another 4-20 type game, the bandwagon will have some open seats, similar to Safeco Field by about the middle of June. The jury is still out on this season, and on Jake Locker as a collegiate quarterback, but I’m starting to doubt that we will see massive improvement like we did last year out of this team, and Jake Locker.