While many are readily jumping aboard the Jake Locker for Heisman bandwagon, Bill Connelly of Football Outsiders is a bit more dubious. Connelly writes on his ESPN Insider column that Locker’s pro potential and physical tools haven’t yet added up to on-field success. For that reason, Connelly sounds somewhat surprised Locker is even in the Heisman conversation.
It’s rare to find a QB receiving such lofty preseason accolades coming off a sub-.500 season. Arizona State’s Andrew Walter in 2004 might be the last true example of such a thing, but Walter was only given marginal consideration, at best. To get the hype in the fall, you usually have to achieve to some degree the year before — if not by winning games, then at least by lighting up box scores. For the most part, Locker has done neither. His career record is 8-20, and while his statistics are solid, they have been far from spectacular so far. But as he enters what is basically his third collegiate season (two-thirds of the 2008 year were wiped out due to injury), there is still time for him to succeed to some degree.
Connelly also notes that wins and losses will play a large role in Locker’s Heisman bid. How does he think UW will fare? Not great.
Washington’s ceiling this season is likely somewhere in the 7-5 or 8-4 range.
So much depends on Locker’s further maturation; if he can close the gap between known performance and hype, he can lead the Huskies to their first bowl since 2002 — but that gap is still quite large.