QB Jake Locker won't play vs. Oregon

Updated: November 1, 2010, 8:24 PM ET
Associated Press

SEATTLE -- As if Washington needed more of a challenge facing No. 1 Oregon, the Huskies will venture into Eugene without their best player.

Quarterback Jake Locker won't play on Saturday, out with a broken rib that started as a cartilage injury and has grown into a full fracture with the punishment the Huskies' QB has taken in recent weeks.

Washington coach Steve Sarkisian said Monday that Locker played last Saturday against Stanford (No. 13 BCS, No. 10 AP) with a hairline rib fracture that started as a cartilage injury suffered against Oregon State. Cleared by physicians to play against the Cardinal, Locker took additional hits that fully cracked the bone.

"[He] took a couple pretty good shots as you guys probably saw that kind of escalated this thing to a whole another level for us," Sarkisian said. "It's unfortunate. I know Jake wants to be out there in the worst way, but this is the right thing to do."

Locker was 7 of 14 passing for 64 yards and two interceptions against the Cardinal and was sacked three times.

He said the injury wasn't taken "lightly."

"It was something that was checked out and making sure nothing changed from week to week. It's something they made sure that I was comfortable with, and my family was comfortable with," Locker said. "It was getting better. It was sore, but that's part of football."

Locker's setback completed a miserable weekend for the Huskies, who appeared inept on offense and overpowered on defense in their 41-0 loss to Stanford.

It also added another stain on Locker's disappointing senior season. Considered a Heisman contender when he announced his return to Washington, Locker has in some areas regressed from a year ago. His completion percentage and yards passing per game are down from a year ago, with only his touchdown-to-interception ratio having improved.

More importantly, the stated goal of the Huskies (3-5, 2-3) of getting to a bowl game for the first time since 2002 is perilously in danger with four games remaining.

"It's not how you would have wanted to draw it up," Locker said. "But I said at the time of my decision, and I'll stick to it now: I don't regret it. I wouldn't do it any different. We still have a lot to play for in this season."

Sarkisian said he hopes Locker will be healthy enough to return on Nov. 18 when Washington hosts UCLA in Locker's final home game. The Huskies close with road games at California and rival Washington State.

As a comparison, Seattle Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck missed two games during the 2009 season with a broken rib and didn't practice for two weeks while recovering.

With Locker out, redshirt freshman Keith Price will make his first career start in one of the most difficult environments in college football. Price has seen spot action this year, throwing nine passes in the five games. He did throw a touchdown pass in his one attempt in the Huskies' upset of Southern California.

"He's got a real confidence about himself right now, and I think we all saw that in some of the moments that he's been in, especially at USC in a critical juncture of that ball game, stepping up and throwing a touchdown pass," Sarkisian said of Price. "It'll be a great challenge for him, and a great challenge for us."


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