It’s something I said in a half-joking tone whenever writing about Keith Price during the long offseason. “Or, you know, he could just revert back to 2011 Keith Price as if 2012 never happened.” Half-joking because it was certainly possible, but seemed unlikely enough after Price’s mediocre, and at times excruciating, junior season that to predict it would have been silly.
Through two games of the 2013 season it looks like the joke is on us as fans and writers for not being so bold as to predict a full-on comeback. It was speculated that many of Price’s problems last year were the result of a number of factors impacting his game at once. The loss of confidence in a rickety and inexperienced offensive line, loss of confidence in any receivers not named Kasen Williams or Austin Seferian-Jenkins, plus the loss of offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier to Alabama.
So Coach Sark spent the off season making big adjustments, finding solutions to the problems that plagued his quarterback. He brought on Marques Tuiasosopo as quarterbacks coach, a move that has received just about universal acclaim, especially among the Husky faithful. He switched the offense, leaving behind some of his more deliberate “pro-style” leanings for a no-huddle, zone-read attack meant to emphasize Washington’s sudden depth of talent at wide receiver and running back while taking the focus off of the offensive line. Meanwhile, that offensive line also appears to have grown over a complete off season of good health, so that the young players thrown into the fire this time last year are now veterans with a year of experience starting in the trenches.
The long list of reasons why Price and the offense struggled in 2012 has been matched by an equally extensive list of reasons why Price and the offense have played beautifully in 2013, and through two games, Price has definitely balled like it’s 2011. First he went 23 of 31 (74%) for 324 yards and two touchdowns to go along with a single pick. At Illinois it was an even more impressive 28 of 35 for 342 yards and two scores. The sample size is very small, but just for kicks, let’s project those stats over a full 12-game regular season: 3,996 passing yards, 24 passing touchdowns, six interceptions.
It’s too early to be certain that Price has returned to form for the long-haul, but after two efficient, dynamic performances by the senior QB and his entire offense, it seems far more likely that the scoring continues than that it will come to a screeching halt. It may have been silly to count on Price regaining his near-dominant play this season, but now the rash move would be to bet on him to fail. For Husky fans, that is a wonderful and likely unexpected development.