A couple thousand fans on a sunny afternoon at Memorial Stadium saw the Huskies develop some offensive identity. The spring has been dominated by defense as the offense has lacked rhythm and leadership as Keith Price and Nick Montana vie for the quarterback position.
Price made steps toward winning that battle on Saturday, passing for 161 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
Coach Steve Sarkisian has been cautious to comment equally on the two young quarterbacks thus far this spring, but after Saturday's scrimmage, he brought up Price's performance without prompting.
“I thought Keith Price had a nice day today,” Sarkisian said. “He did some really nice things. … He threw the ball downfield real well. I think Keith showed some real pocket presence, and his ability to create with his feet allows plays to develop.”
Even in a scrimmage setting, the quarterbacks were not totally “live” and were protected by the whistle. But Sarkisian intentionally wanted to the plays to develop longer to show what Price can do when pressured.
“I think Keith has a real unique style to his game … he’s not truly a runner,” Sarkisian said. “He’s just slippery and buys time. He’s got a real point-guard mentality with how he plays.”
Price said the defensive dominance in recent practices and scrimmages had given the offense more motivation on Saturday. Receiver Jermaine Kearse, who had an impressive day receiving the ball, said he thought the offense was developing rhythm as they all get used to the two quarterbacks.
“It’s a little tough because you have two different styles and they’re constantly switching back and forth,” Kearse said. “It’s just going to take time to get to know them.”
Price already has developed an understanding with Kearse. “He always told me if I see you one on one with a corner, I’m going to go to you,” Kearse said. “That’s exactly what happened (on the touchdown).”
A couple of Price's plays stood out. Although he started working with the second offense, Price dodged defensive pressure and found back Johri Fogerson on the sidelines to turn what looked to be a certain sack into a 15-yard touchdown pass. Later, he spotted an advantage in coverage and fired a 25-yard touchdown strike to Kearse.
Sarkisian said he's still in no hurry to arrive at a decision on which quarterback will be considered No. 1.
Sarkisian saw a great deal he liked on Saturday, again citing the quarterback pressure defensive end Josh Shirley is generating. Kearse and back Chris Polk also drew his praise. And in addition to his touchdown reception, Fogerson also had two breakaway runs of 30 and 23 yards.
With just three practices left in spring drills, Sarkisian said he was happy to see the offense finally find some rhythm and sustain some drives. He wants to work on "cleaning up" special teams play, too.