September 29, 2008

Locker out 6-8 weeks at quarterback

University of Washington quarterback Jake Locker had surgery today to repair a fractured first metacarpal in his thumb. The injury will keep him out of action at quarterback for six to eight weeks as the setbacks continue to mount for the Huskies. In his place redshirt freshman Ronnie Fouch will take over as the signal caller when Washington travels to Arizona this Saturday. The Huskies will be trying to avoid the programs first 0-5 start in 39 years without their best player.

"It is a huge loss because he [Jake Locker] adds to our team in so many ways. His presence, his running ability and what he has done for us in our passing game," explained Washington head coach Tyrone Willingham. "It is a big loss but I am also confident in Ronnie Fouch and we have been saying that since last spring. It has just been a matter of trying to find him some plays so he can show what he is capable of doing. I think he stepped in and did well [against Stanford]. He was very cool, he was very composed and he has the respect of his teammates. Those are strong qualities to bring into the game."

Locker had amassed 692 yards of total offense and three touchdowns in the first four games. With Fouch running the offense expect significant changes to the game plan, something that was on display during the second half defeat against Stanford.

"We passed the ball a lot more when I got in and moved away from the quarterback run game," said Fouch.

In a difficult situation Fouch showed promise and the ability to maneuver the Husky offense. He completed 13-of-27 passes for 186 yards and touchdown and also rushed for a touchdown that capped off a 95-yard drive to pull the Huskies within seven points late in the fourth quarter. His most impressive play of the night might have been his first. Showing just how confident and comfortable he is with the offense - Fouch called an audible out of a pass to a speed option that successfully notched a first down.

"That was a game plan call and whenever we see that defensive front we are to audible to a speed option," Fouch explained. "The first play I was in I saw that and I had to run the game plan and act like I'm meant to be out there. I had to make that audible. I just wanted to stick with the game plan that the coach had talked about all week."

Willingham wasn't surprised by his young gunslinger's success.

"Jake is important to our football team but I have always been a coach that believes that football is a game that requires the next guy to be ready to step up and make the sacrifice for the team. You hate to lose Jake but at the same time you move forward and I have high expectations for Ronnie and what he can do for this football team."

With the Locker expected to miss the rest of the season at quarterback, he approached the Husky coaching staff about returning earlier at a different position - possible defense where he was a stand out in high school. Coach Willingham has left that door open but wouldn't commit to the idea just yet.

"It is possible but I couldn't tell you where right now. We have all said that he is a tremendous athlete with the ability to play five, six, seven positions."

No matter if, when or where he returns, Fouch is the starting quarterback for the foreseeable future and he understands the task at hand.

"I have to get prepared for Arizona and get with my head coach and watch a lot of film," said Fouch. "I need to get myself prepared this week and I need to get the timing down with the receivers and be a leader in the huddle and get these guys ready to beat Arizona."

All eyes will be on freshman quarterback this week as Washington attempts to get their first win of the 2008 season.

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