University of Washington coach Steve Sarkisian spent more time Monday assuring everyone that his starting quarterback is fine.
Keith Price has seven turnovers the past two games, and has given himself an emotional lashing following each loss.
Saturday against USC, he threw two interceptions. Price also fumbled twice, once in a tight space at USC’s 3-yard line, and once on a long scramble. It was the second consecutive week a productive scramble ended in a fumble.
“He’s a very creative quarterback, if you want to use that term, where he can create plays for our offense by using his legs,” Sarkisian said.
Against USC, Price doubled his previous season-high of six carries when he ran 12 times for 34 yards, one short of his career-high 13 carries which took place at Oregon in his first career start in 2010. He has 35 rush attempts this year after six games. He played 13 games last season and ran 56 times.
After hurting both knees last season and not running much earlier this season, Price has been on the move against the continued pressure he’s seen of late. While dashing around, he’s taken some big hits which have led to the fumbles. He’s taken other big hits when he could have slid.
“He just has to understand the decision to get down. He took a couple shots he didn’t need to take,” Sarkisian said. “We’ll find that happy medium for him.”
But, in all, Sarkisian said he thinks what Price did against USC (20-for-28 passing, 198 yards) and the remaining schedule will allow Price to return to his record-setting level of last season.
“I think he’s on the right path to getting back playing the type of football that he’s capable of playing,” Sarkisian said. “I think he’s only going to get better this Saturday at Arizona.”
SHIRLEY’S SMALL ROLE
At the start of the season, rush end Josh Shirley was projected as one of the menaces on the Washington defense. Instead, his impact has been situational and his role is shrinking. Shirley is no longer a starter and is being used in spot situations – obvious throwing downs. Teams ran at Shirley early in the season, and he did not hold up well.
This is the prime fit for Shirley’s tall, athletic frame. He’s 6-foot-3 and 230 pounds as a redshirt sophomore. Washington hopes Shirley still has an impact during his limited time on the field, especially Saturday against Arizona, which is second in the conference in passing yards.
“If you look at the last two games, he’s been able to make two really game-changing plays, with the sack/fumble against Stanford three weeks ago and then the sack the other night on (USC quarterback) Matt Barkley there in a critical third-down situation,” Sarkisian said. “That’s going to be his role for us for a little while, which is OK because he’s making plays when he’s been put in those situations.’’
Washington will play host to Oregon State at 7:15 p.m. Oct. 27. The game will be on the Pac-12 Networks and will be Washington’s third night game in four weeks. … The Huskies are 10th in scoring offense in the conference and last in pass offense. … Price moved from last to 10th in the conference in pass efficiency, thanks to a higher completion rate (71 percent) against USC. … Bishop Sankey is sixth in the conference with 81.2 rushing yards per game. … Arizona quarterback Matt Scott leads the conference with 352.3 passing yards per firstname.lastname@example.org @Todd_Dybas blog.thenewstribune.com/uwsports