Tag:Paul Wulff
Posted on: September 3, 2011 7:55 pm
Edited on: September 3, 2011 7:59 pm

Washington State QB Tuel breaks clavicle

Washington State quarterback Jeff Tuel broke his left clavicle during his only series against Idaho State, Saturday.

The Cougars' star had been unable to start the game due to a stomach virus, but entered the midway through the first quarter.

Bud Withers of The Seattle Times described the scene:
Tuel threw only two passes on his drive for a field goal, but it may have been a scramble that cost him the collarbone. On a 2nd-and-6 play at the Idaho State 10, he looked for a quick shot over the middle, didn't see anything and ran to his right. He was flipped down at the right sideline, but got up quickly and didn't appear to be hurt.
Stopped for no gain on the play, Tuel then threw a four-yard flip to Rickey Galvin before a WSU field goal made it 17-0.

Tuel, NFLDraftScout.com's No. 6 rated quarterback for the 2013 draft, entered the season as a favorite breakout candidate for many. The 6-3, 223 pound junior completed 59.8% of his passes for 2,780 yards and 18 touchdowns playing behind a porous offensive line. He plays in a spread offense, but has the mobility to handle the conversion to a pro-style offense. Tuel has the arm strength to make every NFL throw and shows great touch on deep balls. Perhaps most intriguing, Tuel has played well when pitted against top competition. I scouted Washington State against Stanford (Andrew Luck), USC (Matt Barkley) and Washington (Jake Locker) and left feeling that Tuel had made some of the best passes in each contest.

Until more tests are run, the length of time that Tuel will be sidelined isn't known. Withers offered a "rough guess" of 6-8 weeks, citing the normal timetable of most similar injuries. 

The injury is a cruel one for the Cougars. Their head coach, Paul Wulff, is 5-32 in his first three seasons and is widely rumored to need a successful fourth season to avoid losing his job. Though the improvements in this team haven't yet translated into victories, Wulff and his staff inherited a pretty bare cabinet of talent and have rebuilt the program into one entering this season with quiet confidence that a bowl game was possible.

Even with the loss of their best player, the Cougars improved depth was obvious in their rout of Idaho State. (WSU ahead 61-20 in third quarter as of 7:45 pm ET). If there is a silver lining for Washington State, it is that they start their conference schedule against UCLA and Colorado, potentially two of the more winnable Pac-12 games.  

Posted on: December 5, 2010 1:44 pm

With one pass, Locker's stock steadies

I have been as critictal of Washington quarterback Jake Locker's struggles as anyone. He entered this season as a prohibitive favorite to be the first senior selected in the 2011 draft and now I do not currently project him among the Top 32 in my first round mock draft.

Part of the reason for Locker's downfall has been the expectations placed upon him after what appeared to be a breakout junior season under Steve Sarkisian. Locker made such strides in his first season under Sarkisian that it was natural to believe he'd make similar gains year two.

It hasn't happened. Locker is still too often fooled by coverages and is highly inconsistent with his accuracy. Those two facts, regardless of how athletic a quarterback might be, have historically translated into struggles at the NFL level.

Scouts can't just write off Locker as a project, however.  That's because, as he again demonstrated last night in a thrilling Apple Cup victory over state rival Washington State, Locker has shown the ability to make accurate throws when the pressure is highest.

Now, let's be clear. Locker was bad -- not just bad, abysmal - in home losses this season to Nebraska and Stanford, the two best defenses he faced all season long. Considering the expectations placed on him, one could argue those two games were the ones he faced the most "pressure" and therefore my argument doesn't appear to hold water.

However, anyone who has watched the Huskies play this season knows about the struggles they've had on the offensive line. This isn't an excuse for Locker. Washington has started a staggering six different lineups along the offensive line. Teams with physical defensive lines -- like Nebraska and Stanford -- have so thoroughly dominated UW up front that Locker had no chance.

Rather, by "pressure," I mean that Locker has been able to make accurate throws when the game is on the line. He's demonstrated this ability often after he's been average (or worse) throughout much of the rest of the game. It is a big reason why, as Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times notes, four of Washington's six victories this season have come in the "final minute or in their last possession of the game ."

Locker demonstrated this ability to make legitimate NFL throws in critical moments in Washington's upsets over USC and Cal each of the past two years and the win over Washington State last night. Folks, that may not sound like many games, but when you've been as bad as Washington has been (Duke and Baylor are the only BCS teams with a longer bowl game drought), there haven't been many opportunities to scout Locker in "pressure" situations.

Again, don't get me wrong. Locker was fair from great last night. It was the Huskies' redshirt sophomore running back Chris Polk who won this game. His jaw-dropping 284 rushing yards and two touchdowns made life much easier on Locker and will be a featured component Monday in my Weekly Rewind feature . Locker, in fact, wasn't even the best quarterback on the field last night. The Cougars' sophomore quarterback Jeff Tuel was spectacular, providing ample evidence that WSU head coach Paul Wulff is doing an admirable job of turning around WSU's program.

But, on the 4th quarter drive to earn a bowl game or end his collegiate career, Locker threw a perfect 27-yard fade to Jermaine Kearse with 44 seconds left to win it. Peyton Manning doesn't throw that pass with better touch, timing or placement than Locker did on that critical play. Here is the link to watch the throw.

And that, in a nutshell, is why Jake Locker is the most frustrating quarterback I've ever scouted. He made some of the same errors in this game that he's made throughout his career. In calling for eight consecutive running plays (six by Polk, two by Locker) on that final drive, scouts are left to wonder whether Sarkisian simply trusted his running game or didn't trust Locker's passing to put the Huskies in position to kick the game-winning field goal.

But, when the play was called to go for the throat, Locker delivered. As Football Outsiders and Sports Press Northwest's writer Doug Farrar noted on Twitter , "That's the throw they're going to show through the entire pre-draft process when everyone's debating Locker's NFL QB ability."

With that one throw, Locker again proved that he can make accurate throws in critical moments. I, like A LOT of scouts I speak to, am not convinced that Locker will ever get past his struggles reading coverage or inconsistent ball placement and be a successful NFL quarterback.

But throws like that one - in moments like that one - provide the evidence that perhaps he can.
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