Wherein I profile some of Washington's key players in the week leading up to Saturday's game in Seattle.
Check back for much more in the coming days.
What's Jake Locker's deal?
While his Heisman hopes have slipped away, the Washington quarterback still has at least one thing in common with Andrew Luck. Like his fellow future first-round pick, the banged-up Locker has been the subject of punny headlines. The hurt Locker (doh!) suffered a thigh bruise during Saturday's 44-14 loss to Arizona to go along with his already bruised ribs, but says he'll play against Stanford. Locker practiced during today's early session, but sat out the team drills, the same pattern he has followed the last two weeks. After being hyped as perhaps the Pac-10's best Heisman candidate, Locker has had an inconsistent season. He looked brutal in an early-season loss to Nebraska, completing only 4 of his 20 attempts, but was masterful in wins over USC and Oregon State. He passed for 310 yards and ran for 110 more against the Trojans, and threw five touchdown passes against the Beavers. More often than not, though, Locker has been ordinary. While he has cut down on his interceptions this season, he ranks eighth in the conference in passing efficiency and is completing only 57 percent of his passes. Still, NFL scouts remain enamored with Locker's skills and leadership abilities, and he continues to project as a top-five draft pick. He has the potential to dominate a game.
What's Jermaine Kearse's deal?
The 6-foot-2 wideout and Locker's go-to guy has been an absolute stud for the Huskies, following up his breakout sophomore campaign with an impressive season to date. Kearse has 10 touchdown receptions, four of which came against Oregon State. Kearse became the fourth Washington player to catch at least 10 TDs in a single season and has a shot at breaking Mario Bailey's single-season record of 18 set in 1991. Despite struggling with drops this season, Kearse is averaging nearly 9 catches per game.
What's Chris Polk's deal?
Polk, a sophomore, ranks fifth in the Pac-10 with 91 yards per game and has eclipsed the 100-yard mark three times this season. A physical runner, Polk has emerged as a pass-catching threat out of the backfield, with 11 of his 13 receptions coming in the last four games. He will occasionally line up at fullback in one of Washington's many offensive looks. Polk has provided steady production this season despite running behind a revolving offensive line that has allowed 9 of its 12 sacks in the last three games. True freshman Erik Kohler, who has been sidelined with mono during that time, is expected to return to the starting lineup at right tackle against the Cardinal.
What's Mason Foster's deal?
The Huskies aren't known for their defense, but Foster is worthy of a mention. You'll hear his name called a lot Saturday; Stanford just hopes it's after 5- and 6-yard gains. The senior linebacker is tied for third in the nation and leads the Pac-10 with 82 tackles. Foster also has six tackles for loss and three sacks, so it should come as no surprise that he is a semifinalist for the Butkus Award, given annually to the nation's best linebacker. Foster has been one of the few bright spots for a unit that ranks 98th in total defense and has allowed 33 points per game.
What's Steve Sarkisian's deal?
The Pete Carroll disciple has enjoyed moderate success since taking over as the head coach last season, and is 2-0 against his former team. At 3-4, and with upcoming games against Stanford and Oregon, Sarkisian faces an uphill battle in his quest to lead Washington to its first bowl berth since 2002. If that happens, you can bet he'll be barking like crazy on his Twitter feed. Woof, indeed.