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Times reporter Bob Condotta keeps the news coming about the Montlake Dawgs.

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February 14, 2008 8:37 AM

On quarterback coaching

Posted by Bob Condotta

Many of you have asked whether the Huskies, in having some coaching vacancies this year, have thought about hiring a new quarterbacks coach.

UW coach Tyrone Willingham was asked that question on his teleconference to announce the Brian White hiring the other day and said no, the rest of the staff assignments will remain the same.

That means offensive coordinator Tim Lappano also having responsibility for the quarterbacks with help from graduate assistant Luke Huard, the younger brother of former Huskies Damon and Brock Huard.

The tone and volume of the e-mails I've gotten on this topic lead me to believe there is a perception out there that UW has to get better in this area.

Certainly, no one disputes that the biggest room for improvement in Jake Locker's game is his passing. His completion percentage of 47.3 last year (155-328) was the lowest in the Pac-10, and his passing efficiency rating of 105.0 was the second-lowest in the Pac-10 and not high enough to rank among the top 100 in the country.

But given Locker's inexperience running a sophisticated passing attack some struggles were to be expected. Also, I think you could conservatively estimate that he had at least two passes a game that were dropped by receivers. Give him 24 more completions (he played in only 12 games, remember) and his percentage would rise to 54 percent.

Huard is obviously new to college coaching --- last year was his first season --- but Lappano was QB coach at Washington State in 1991 (helping groom Drew Bledsoe there) and Oregon State from 1999-2002 (when the QBs were Jonathan Smith and Derek Anderson). So I think you can assume he knows what he's doing.

As for what they can do with Locker in the off-season, the answer is not much. Coaches aren't allowed to do hands-on coaching until the spring. But they can recommend drills, set up an off-season program, etc., so when Locker does his regular informal seven-on-seven passing sessions with the receivers, he is working on things that he has discussed with the coaches previously.

When spring ball comes around in April, the coaches will again be able to work with Locker more specifically. I think everyone will be surprised if he doesn't show some marked improvement in his passing next season. The big question this year will be the young receiving corps and how quickly he and they can develop some timing and chemistry.

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