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Huskies look to keep momentum going against ASU

Patrick Riley / The Daily
Patrick Riley / The Daily

Washington quarterback Jake Locker had plenty of time to think about his 4-for-20, 71 yard, two interception meltdown in a 56-21 loss to then No. 8 Nebraska Sept. 18.

He had two weeks to be exact.

Two weeks of waiting for redemption.

Unfortunately for UW’s next opponent, Southern California, the Trojans received the brunt of the top NFL prospect’s frustration Oct. 2 in a 32-31 last-second defeat.

“He played in the absence of fear, he wasn’t concerned about the outcome, he played each snap for that snap,” UW coach Steve Sarkisian said. “What he had to endure from that Saturday [against] Nebraksa and then for two weeks following would be tough on anyone from a psyche standpoint. But he responded beautifully and played a ballgame that was, in my opinion, a legendary one.”

Locker finished with 310 yards passing and one touchdown on 24-of-40 passing.

“It was one of the greatest games I’ve been a part of since I’ve been in college,” Locker said. “As a football team, we weren’t happy with how we performed [against Nebraska], the best thing we did was put it behind us and have two really good weeks of practice.”

Trailing 29-31, Locker got the ball back with just over two and a half minutes remaining in the fourth quarter and orchestrated a 10-play, 62-yard drive to set up the game-winning 32-yard field goal.

“[He] converted a fourth-and-11 on a two minute drive to go win a ballgame and then ran on third down to put us in real good field goal position,” Sarkisian said. “Those are plays that you write books and movies about and he did it in real life right in front of our eyes.”

The coach resorted to simplifying his pro-style offense in an attempt to fix costly errors that plagued Locker in UW’s two losses.

“I just tried to put him in a position to be effective at what he does well,” Sarkisian said. “We threw much more quick [plays] than we had previously and then [we] max protected for him so he could feel good with his feet in the pocket and stand and deliver the football.”

Hoping for a repeat performance, the Huskies (2-2, 1-0 Pac-10) will host ASU Saturday in Seattle.

“They are a scary football team,” Sarkisian said. “The quarterback is throwing it all over the field, the running backs are running, [and] the defense is opportunistic. We have to minimize their big plays. They create them not only on offense, but on defense and special teams [too].”

Defensively for the Huskies, senior linebacker Mason Foster leads the Pac-10 in tackles with 48.

“He can play back or on the ball,” Sarkisian said. “He’s got an unbelievable knack for the football and causing turnovers. I don’t know where we’d be on defense without him.”

Last season in Tempe, the Sun Devils (2-3, 0-2 Pac-10) won 24-17 on a 50-yard touchdown pass from Danny Sullivan to Chris McGaha with five seconds remaining in the game.

“We had an opportunity to win the game and we didn’t do it,” Locker said. “It was a great game last year, came right down to the end and I expect the same thing on Saturday.”

If the clash does come down to the wire, Saturday will feature two of the more decorated kickers in the country.

ASU’s redshirt senior Thomas Weber is a former Lou Groza Award winner and the Huskies’ junior Erik Folk was named the Pac-10’s special teams player of the week for his game-winning kick against then No. 18 USC Saturday.

“He’s got ice in his veins; he’s unbelievable,” said Sarkisian of Folk. “I told the group, ‘We’re about to kick off SportsCenter here so let’s hurry up and make this kick.’”

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