Talk about a boomerang effect. Two years ago, we were wondering what we had at the quarterback position now that Jake Locker had moved on to the NFL. Would it be Keith Price taking over, or would Nick Montana live up to the hype? KP17 quickly put an end to the debate during the spring, emerging as the clear-cut starter ahead of Montana.
In 2011, Price turned in one of the most efficient seasons in UW history. He threw for 3063 yards, 33 touchdowns and completed 67 percent of his passes. His Alamo Bowl performance against Baylor and RGIII bordered on insanity – he accounted for seven (!) scores and if not for a porous defense, would have singlehandedly led UW to a second consecutive bowl victory over a nationally ranked Big XII team.
Going in to the 2012 season, Price was getting dark horse Heisman mentions. He had two NFL caliber weapons to throw to in Kasen Williams and Austin Seferian-Jenkins and according to his coaching staff he was bigger and stronger than he had been at any point in 2011.
Naturally, Price regressed. His inconsistent play was baffling for Husky fans. Where was the sound decision making he showed in 2012? Why was he holding on to the ball so long? All of the frustration and aggravation was compounded in the Apple Cup when Price, up 18 against WSU in the second half, couldn’t sustain a drive or momentum and allowed WSU to come back and force overtime. In overtime, Price cost the Huskies a chance at points by throwing, perhaps, the most inexcusable interception of his career. That ended the game and gave the Cougars the Apple Cup win.
I still get nauseous thinking about that game. The beautiful thing is that that was last year. It’s over.
Price is now a redshirt senior, entering his fifth year in the program and once again finds himself at a crossroads. Fans, media and coaches alike are asking the same questions of Price that they were in the spring of 2011. Who is Keith Price? Which version of him will show up? We know he can play; we’ve seen him pick apart top ranked teams with surgeon like precision. But we’ve also seen him look lost under center.
There are no excuses for Price this year. He has a 1,400-yard rusher returning in Bishop Sankey. He has an offensive line that has seven different players with starting experience and (in theory, at least) should be very solid. He has a stable of wide receivers with all the talent in the world. Pending the resolution of ASJ’s legal woes, Price will have a tight end to throw to who will be a top-10 pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. There is no reason for him not to return to his 2011 form.
If he struggles, there are three young quarterbacks that could all step in and make KP17 an afterthought. If his own competitive nature and desire to improve doesn’t motivate him, then maybe some healthy competition will.
I am dying for Price to have a great year; watching him play in 2011 was a joy, and he is the type of guy that players and fans naturally rally around. If he can’t get it together, I feel like Coach Sark will be quick with the hook, and get one of those young kids onto the field.
Whatever happens – I can’t wait. I am fired up for Husky football. See you all on Saturday. Go Dawgs, and bow down.