Vintage Keith Price is good news for Washington

Oct 9, 2013, 12:17 PM | Updated: 9:48 pm
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By Brady Henderson

There’s at least one thing Steve Sarkisian and David Shaw might be able to agree on.

Shaw, while beginning his Pac-12 conference call Tuesday by firing back at Sarkisian for comments he made about Stanford’s allegedly underhanded tactics, said all the quibbling was detracting from a pair of stellar performances in the Cardinal’s win over Washington.

“Ty Montgomery and Keith Price put on a show, and we should be talking about them,” Shaw said in reference to the Cardinal receiver and the Huskies quarterback, respectively. “Two guys that we should be looking at as two of the better guys in the country at their position, and all this other stuff is taking away from that. Those two guys need to be praised, they need to be recognized for what they did.”

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Keith Price has 11 touchdown passes to just three interceptions as well as a 71.3 completion percentage for the Huskies, who are 4-1 and ranked 16th. (AP)

Price threw for 350 yards and a pair of touchdowns, but you have to look beyond the numbers to really appreciate a performance that was so good an opposing coach was still lauding it three days later. It was gutsy, gritty and any other adjective that might describe the intestinal fortitude Price showed while weathering five sacks, staring down one of the best defensive fronts in college football and leading the Huskies to the brink of a road win over the nation’s fifth-ranked team.

Perhaps most importantly, it was further evidence that Price is back to his 2011 form after a trying junior season.

“I’m really proud of Keith,” Washington coach Steve Sarkisian told 710 ESPN Seattle’s “Brock and Danny” on Tuesday. “We all know everything he went through a year ago. Physically, emotionally, this was a long offseason for him, and for him to come out and to be playing the way he’s playing for us and the way he played the other night against an excellent Stanford defense, I couldn’t be more proud of a young man.”

To understand what Price went through last year requires looking back to 2011, when the then-sophomore set the school’s single-season records for touchdown passes (33), completion percentage (66.9 percent) and passer efficiency (161.09) in his first season as a starter.

What followed was a junior season marked by turnovers and inconsistency, some of which could be attributed to injuries and a lack of continuity on offense. While Price improved over the second half of the season, the last pass he threw – an interception in Washington’s Las Vegas Bowl loss to Boise State – sent the Huskies into the offseason with some degree of uncertainty under center.

Just like that, Price had gone from a record-setting sophomore season to a junior campaign that raised questions about whether or not he would remain Washington’s starter in 2013.

He did, and through five games the 16th-ranked Huskies are 4-1 and reaping the benefits of a vintage Price. He has 11 touchdown passes to three interceptions, 1,394 passing yards and a 71.3 completion percentage that if sustained would shatter his own school record. His 350 yards against Stanford were his most since Washington’s Alamo Bowl shootout with Baylor in 2011.

It’s all good news for a team that’s hoping to stay alive in the Pac-12 North race with No. 2 Oregon coming to Montlake Saturday and then a second-half schedule against teams with a combined record of 18-11.

“He’s got a lot of good football left in him for the rest of the season and he’s going to win us a bunch of ball games,” Sarkisian said of Price. “And I’m happy number 17 is our quarterback and playing the way he is for us because we’re going to need him in the second half of this season.”

Follow Brady Henderson on Twitter @BradyHenderson.

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Vintage Keith Price is good news for Washington