By Brent Stecker
Washington quarterback Keith Price saw his first football action in almost a week Thursday, and his injured shoulder has “vastly improved,” according to coach Steve Sarkisian.
Whether that means Price will be in shape to play at Oregon State Saturday – or if redshirt freshman Cyler Miles will make his first career start instead – is still undecided.
“I don’t want to say I was pleasantly surprised, but I was encouraged that he was able to go out and throw the ball the way he did,” Sarkisian said after practice Thursday, which was Price’s first since the injury forced him to leave Washington’s loss to UCLA late in the first half.
“(He was) much improved from where he couldn’t even basically put a shirt on Saturday, and he came out and threw the ball today. I’m gonna really monitor how it feels for him tomorrow and then how it can potentially improve for him up until Saturday, Saturday night for the game.”
Price – who hasn’t missed a game in two years – has thrown for 2,662 yards, 19 touchdowns and just four interceptions on 64.8 percent passing this season.
Sarkisian was pleased with how Price was able to throw in the cold weather Thursday.
“I don’t know how much colder it’s going to get Saturday night than it was this morning, especially at the start of practice when he did the bulk of his work,” Sarkisian said. “All of those decisions and everything, that will come up with the trainers and our medical staff, myself, Keith, and a lot of communication so that we put everything on the table and what the potential concerns are, and how much better it can be between now and Saturday. What he feels like tomorrow or even later today after throwing a significant amount today (is important).”
Sarkisian added that it will be important for him to see how Price’s arm reacts later Thursday and early Friday before picking a starter, which he expects to do before practice Friday.
“I’ll probably tell (Price and Miles) tomorrow, when they show up and after I meet with Keith and the doctors and everybody,” he said.
Sarkisian hasn’t ruled out starting Miles while keeping open the option of pressing Price into duty at some point in the game. The Huskies did that two seasons ago against Oregon State when Price was nursing a leg injury – he entered the game in the fourth quarter, replacing Nick Montana in his only start for the Huskies.
Miles – who completed 15 of 22 passes for 149 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions after coming into the UCLA game last week – has performed well enough in practice to maintain Sarkisian’s confidence in him.
“I thought he was really good (Thursday). I thought he was very accurate today. Confident, which is where you like your quarterback, whoever it is, on a Thursday,” Sarkisian said. “You want to have a feel-good Thursday, where the ball’s getting thrown accurately to the right guys, on time, and he did that today.”
• Sarkisian has been impressed with the performance of freshman WR Damore’ea Stringfellow, who set career highs in receptions (eight) and receiving yards (147) and showed off his strength by bulldozing his way in for a touchdown against UCLA.
• He had a great practice today, I tell you what. He’s been good all week, but he was really good today,” Sarkisian said. “I just think (the touchdown vs. UCLA) shows to his strength and athleticism that that guy possesses. And then there’s other plays where he’s running by guys, running by DBs. I think he’s just got a great combination of size, speed and power, and he’s got a great football IQ. I’m fired up for him. I’ve been waiting for that. I’ve been talking about him for months, it feels like. He just got going the right way, and I think that’s just the beginning of it.”
• LB John Timu, LT Micah Hatchie and S Will Shamburger – each of whom are nursing injuries – are all “good to go” against Oregon State, Sarkisian said.