By Scott M. Johnson Herald Writer
SEATTLE — A rash of nagging injuries has forced Steve Sarkisian to make a few game-time decisions this season.
When it comes to the quarterback position, Sarkisian does not want to make one this week.
The University of Washington football coach said Wednesday night that today’s practice will go a long way toward determining whether Jake Locker will be available against UCLA on Saturday.
“I’d rather it not be” a Saturday decision, Sarkisian said after his hobbled quarterback went through another full practice Wednesday night. “But if it comes to that, it comes to that.”
Based on how Locker has looked in practice this week, the junior quarterback appears on track to play. The deep thigh bruise has limited Locker, but it has not prevented him from participating in 11-on-11 sessions.
“He’s looked good, but he’ll continue to have to deal with the leg,” offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier said after Wednesday’s practice. “We’ll see how it progresses as the week goes along.”
Just in case, the Huskies have had backup Ronnie Fouch take a good share of snaps with the No. 1 offense this week. While Locker has had the majority of work, Fouch has seen almost as many practice repetitions.
“I’ll be ready if my time comes,” Fouch said. “If not, I’ll support Jake.”
Fouch said he’s eager to get back behind center, not because he’s trying to atone for his 0-8 record as starter last season but because he believes the new offensive system has been a better fit for his skills.
“There’s a big-time chance to be successful in this offense,” he said.
The Huskies would certainly prefer to have their starter when Saturday arrives.
Locker, who is only made available to the media on Mondays and after games, has been wearing a sleeve on his injured right leg and looks less nimble than usual. Sarkisian admitted earlier this week that the Huskies might have to alter the game plan even if Locker plays, limiting the quarterback’s movement — both in the pocket and in terms of when Locker runs.
Locker suffered the injury in the first quarter of the Oct. 24 loss to Oregon, but he continued to play into the fourth quarter of that game. The injury kept him out of three practices during last week’s bye, and he’s gradually gotten more and more work throughout this week.
On Wednesday, Locker looked solid at times but was clearly not 100 percent. He underthrew a deep ball to James Johnson on one snap, then came back on the next one to hit Jermaine Kearse with a nicely-thrown, 40-yard touchdown pass.
Nussmeier said he’s been encouraged by what he has seen from the quarterback this week.
“Jake continues to get healthier every day,” he said.
Still, Sarkisian isn’t making any predictions about who will start at quarterback.
“My big deal is how he responds” at today’s practice, Sarkisian said. “I think I’ll be able to make a better assessment after that.”
Wide receiver Jordan Polk, who had surgery to repair cartilage in his knee, was back practicing Wednesday. “I feel good,” he said. “I’m almost at full speed.” Sarkisian has yet to announce whether Polk will play against UCLA. … Converted wide receiver Anthony Boyles continues to work at cornerback, but Sarkisian said it’s unlikely he’ll get much playing time there this week. “We’d be fools to expect him to make that transition in five days,” Sarkisian said. … The Huskies continue to get hit by injuries on the offensive line. With Mykenna Ikehara sidelined by a knee injury, the team had Daniel Kanczugowski take snaps at guard and tackle Drew Schaefer work at center Wednesday to add depth to the unit. … Freshman linebacker Jordan Wallace sat out the final hour of practice with ice on his right knee. Sarkisian had said earlier this week that he expected Wallace to see playing time with the defense Saturday, but the freshman’s status is now unclear. … Wednesday’s practice got a little chippy at times, and things almost came to a head late in the session. After an incomplete pass in the end zone, wide receiver Devin Aguilar and cornerback Desmond Trufant squared off and had to be separated by teammates. “That’s just two great competitors,” Sarkisian said, shrugging off the confrontation. “Neither of them likes to get beat.”