There’s no quarterback controversy at the University of Washington.
But there will most certainly be a decision to make this week for coach Steve Sarkisian, who couldn’t say for sure Monday whether senior quarterback Keith Price will be healthy enough to play Saturday against California.
The issue is the thumb on Price’s right throwing hand. He’s played in three games with that injury – all of them losses – and was forced from UW’s 53-24 loss to Arizona State after taking six sacks and several other hits.
X-ray images taken during that game returned negative for fractures, but there’s a new problem – the swelling on Price’s thumb is in a different spot than before.
“I don’t know if that’s a byproduct of the original injury or not,” Sarkisian said. “But when you play quarterback and you have to grab the football, your thumb plays a pivotal role in gripping the ball and throwing the ball.”
If he can’t grip it and throw it well enough to give the Huskies their best chance to win – the one true measure of whether or not anyone should play, Sarkisian said – then redshirt freshman Cyler Miles will likely make his first career start.
Against lowly Cal (1-6 overall, 0-4 Pac-12 Conference), it would be a relatively soft landing. The Bears allow 525.4 yards and 44.4 points per game.
In limited action this season, Miles has completed five of eight passes for 97 yards and a touchdown, and has carried seven times for 106 yards. Miles played most of Saturday’s fourth quarter, but Sarkisian said he didn’t consider taking Price out
of the game earlier despite repeated hard hits and unrelenting pressure from ASU’s defense.
“I wanted to give him his chance to fight and compete in a game in a tough environment, which we knew it would be a tough one and unfortunately it didn’t work out,” Sarkisian said. “But if that’s to a fault of mine, then it is and I’ll take it for that, knowing our players know I’m going to be there with them and standing in there with them, because I think that he deserves that.”
Price said afterward that he was a little sore, but otherwise refused to blame his poor throws on his ailing thumb.
Sarkisian said it’s something he’ll have to monitor throughout the week. Washington returns to practice Tuesday.
“Again, I’ve known Keith for over five years now and he’s a tough kid, and he’s going to prepare himself mentally, physically and emotionally to be ready to play,” Sarkisian said. “We’ll have to figure out if that’s good enough ”
SARKISIAN ON JAMES
Sarkisian reflected on the legacy of Don James, the former UW coach who died Sunday at age 80 from complications of pancreatic cancer.
“I think for me, he had an impact obviously on the players that played for him, the coaches that coached with him, but I think on the entire University of Washington and our community, the impact that he left and the legacy he’s left here is something that’s unparalleled,” he said.
huskies’ opponent this week
California golden bears (1-6 overall, 0-4 pac-12)
8 p.m. Saturday, Husky Stadium, Fox Sports 1, 950-AM
Coach: Sonny Dykes (1-6 in first year at Cal; 23-21 in fourth year overall)
Against the Huskies: Washington leads the series, 51-38-4.
Scouting report: Dykes has encountered lean times in his first season. He chose freshman Jared Goff as his starting quarterback when the season began, but his inconsistent play has opened the door somewhat for backup Zach Kline. It’s possible either could start against the Huskies. More troubling is the defense, which ranks 121st among FBS teams in total defense (525.4 ypg) and 122nd in scoring defense (44.4 ppg) and has been riddled by injuries to multiple starters. The Bears rank seventh in the nation in passing yards (359.9 per game). Chris Harper (698 yards) and Bryce Treggs (496 yards) give Cal a strong 1-2 receiving combination, and Brendan Bigelow – who committed to play for the Huskies before changing his mind – leads the team in rushing with 280 yards on 75 carries. Senior DL Deandre Coleman attended Seattle’s Garfield High.
Did you know? Cal’s defensive tackles coach is named Barry Sacks, a Federal Way High grad.
Aug. 31 vs. No. 16 Northwestern L, 44-30
Sept. 7 vs. Portland State W, 37-30
Sept. 14 vs. No. 4 Ohio State L, 52-34
Sept. 28 at No. 2 Oregon L, 55-16
Oct. 5 vs. Washington StateL, 44-22
Oct. 12 at UCLA L, 37-10
Oct. 19 vs. Oregon StateL, 49-17
Saturday at No. 15 Washington
Nov. 2 vs. Arizona
Nov. 9 vs. USC
Nov. 16 at Colorado
Nov. 23 at Stanfordchristian.firstname.lastname@example.org @ChristianCaple blog.thenewstribune.com/uwsports email@example.com