Huskies, we've got your number

It was another losing season, true, but the Dawgs were 73 points better than last year against Cal, and there's reason for hope as they look toward '10.
It was another losing season, true, but the Dawgs were 73 points better than last year against Cal, and there's reason for hope as they look toward '10.

In the aftermath of a major football event (or even a relatively minor one such as, say, the Washington Huskies versus the California Golden Bears, memories of on-field accomplishment can fade just as a fun-with-numbers game takes over, to wit:

  • 42-10: That'ꀙs the final score after UW demonstrated command on both sides of the ball over a good Cal team.
  • 10: It'ꀙs Jake Locker'ꀙs number and that'ꀙs what he was (on a scale from 1-to), completing 19 of 23 passes, three for touchdowns, and running for 77 yards and two more scores.
  • 5-7: It'ꀙs Steve Sarkisian'ꀙs record his first year as Dawg Father, even though various arbiters believe it coulda, shoulda, woulda been anywhere from 2-10 to 10-2, if only.

A few other numbers could occur to anyone whose memory goes back 365 days. 'ꀘTwas on Dec. 6, 2008, that is, when the grid guys from the same two schools met in Berkeley and the score was somewhat similar: 48-7, Cal. It was the last time many of us saw Tyrone Willingham as he exited UW football, leaving a record of 0-12.

So the key number to sum up the 'ꀙ09 Huskies? Maybe it'ꀙs 73: the point difference between last year'ꀙs loss to Cal and this year'ꀙs win. Anybody who saw both games would concede that the Huskies at least looked 10-plus touchdowns better a year after the last Willingham game.

How bad was it a year ago? Here'ꀙs Associated Press writer Greg Beacham, filing precisely one year ago as I write this:

'ꀜBy the time Washington concluded the first winless season in school history with a 48-7 defeat, the taciturn Willingham seemed both sad and angry — and the veteran coach looked like he couldn'ꀙt wait to remove his purple polo shirt with the 'ꀘW'ꀙ crest for the last time.

'ꀜ'ꀘYou hurt for your kids,'ꀙ said Willingham, a lame duck since his dismissal in late October. 'ꀘYou hate to see them have to deal with anything of this nature. ... I'ꀙm just disappointed that we didn'ꀙt get done what we set out to do.'ꀙ

'ꀜAfter a downbeat coda to this dirge of a season, Washington (0-12, 0-9 Pac-10) staggered back to Seattle as the nation'ꀙs only winless school and the first 0-12 team in conference history. The Huskies have lost 14 straight since their last victory, over Cal late last season.

'ꀜ'ꀘ(Going) 0-12 is just horrible,'ꀙ Washington linebacker Mason Foster said. 'ꀘIt'ꀙs appalling to go 0-12 'ꀦ (but) I think it'ꀙs going to turn around real quick next season. Hopefully guys will take this season and remember it so we never have this feeling again.'ꀙ"

Here again, the victory this year had just about everything to do with the availability of Locker, a junior who last year watched the final eight games from the sidelines due to an injury. It also had to do with the maturing of supporting players such as Jermaine Kearse, who caught seven balls seemingly before the Bears even realized he was on the field.

He'ꀙd be among many on offense ready to welcome back Locker. Chris Polk, the indefatigable freshman running back, finished the season with 1,113 rushing yards, many of them earned after first and second hits that would'ꀙve submerged a bobbing duck.

Sarkisian also can look forward to the return of the core of a defense that yielded just 10 points the final two games.

With Locker, then, the 2010 Dawgs are probably at least an eight-win team. Without him they might be lucky to win another five. With Locker they'ꀙve got the most legitimate Heisman Trophy campaign in school history. Without him they'ꀙve got Ronnie Fouch at quarterback while incoming freshman Nick Montana studies the Husky offense and tries to become the next Joe Montana, always a possibility since Joe'ꀙs his father.

If Locker forgoes his season of senior eligibility and enters the National Football League draft next spring, he'ꀙll reportedly earn anywhere from millions to zillions. He'ꀙd come out because 2010 could be the last time for draftees to reap what some NFL veterans insist is excessive compensation. If new league guidelines kick in, the rules could cost Locker dearly by waiting until 2011 to be drafted.

Many assume that, if he'ꀙs as good as believed, the triple-threat QB eventually would earn enough during a pro career to offset any signing-bonus loss. Indeed, a high-profile 2010 Heisman Trophy season studded with a great bowl-game performance might prop him atop the 2011 draft.

Then, of course, there'ꀙs that other local football organization, the one that canned its off-field boss last week. The (as Martin Scorsese might say) 'ꀜdeparted'ꀝ Tim Ruskell won'ꀙt be around to (mis)handle the Seattle Seahawks draft next spring. Perhaps former coach Mike Holmgren, as widely speculated, would return as a general manager. Maybe, just maybe, the name 'ꀜJake Locker'ꀝ would be available just when the Hawks, in need of a future (or even present) quarterback, were about to pick.

Maybe, then, it all gets back to fun with numbers. If so, perhaps it'ꀙs appropriate that the prime num for the local football future is the 73-point differential between the most recent two Husky-Cal games.

Why? As any numerologist would note, seven plus three equals Jake Locker, which is to say, 10.


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