Huskies Insider Blog

Day after: Future not so bleak at quarterback

In the Autzen Stadium press box at halftime, when the game was still relatively close - a game that eventually got out of hand as No. 1 Oregon routed Washington, 53-16 - I passed by former NFL quarterback Hugh Millen.

Millen, who does work for KJR 950-AM radio quite often, as well as KCPQ-TV (Ch. 13) as a color analyst, is a stickler for details. His spread sheets of compiled statistics and trend-studied information would impress even the most hardcore football follower.

I inquired about his early impressions of UW's Keith Price, the redshirt freshman who made his first start at quarterback Saturday against the Ducks.

Millen remarked that Price was a little late in picking up things in the game - stuff such as what the Oregon defense was trying to do, route adjustments and things of that nature.

But even mildly critical - what really would be expected of a young guy making a first start, anyway - Millen was impressed with how Price kept plays alive with his legs.

The overall numbers won't 'Wow' you - 14-of-28, 127 yards and a touchdown pass to D'Andre Goodwin (he had a second scoring toss negated by a mindless illegal man downfield penalty). Price threw no interceptions and did not fumble.

He also rushed for 36 yards.

"For his first start ... I'll take his effort," UW coach Steve Sarkisian said of Price.

I'll admit up front - I really was impressed by what Price did. Sure, he missed some throws. Sure, he held onto the ball a bit long on pass attempts, and got sacked. Sure, his arm strength on some of the cross-the-field throws lacked zip and depth.

What attracted me to his style of play was his creativity.

What I really liked was his moxie.

He reminded me of what a "college quarterback" should be (mean in the most complimentary way).

Two plays stood out taller than any:

* From the UW 33-yard line, on the Huskies' first play of the second quarter, Sarkisian spread the Ducks out with a four-receiver set.

Price took a snap and instantly felt pressure. A head fake bought him time as he rolled out.

About that time, the Oregon defense came up to try and contain him. About that time, Price hit Devin Aguilar on an intermediate route near the right sideline, and the junior turned it into a 24-yard gain.

When was the last time a UW signal caller made that sort of play? A few moons ago with Jake Locker in his younger days? Isaiah Stanback? Marques Tuiasosopo?

* The second one came on the UW's second drive of the second half (after he threw a 17-yard score to Goodwin), starting at the Huskies' 22.

On second-and-5, Price dropped back under great heat by the Ducks. He did a few twirly-birdie moves, saw the pass rush converge but somehow got a shovel-pass offering to Goodwin, who flat-out dropped it.

Innovative? Fun? Inspiring?

I remember talking to a source close to the program last year watching practice. At the time, the UW staff was uncertain about what would come of Price. He was young but raw.

The source knew of Price's difficulty in the film room breaking down a defense. More alarming, it was base defensive stuff.

A year later, UW offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier has constantly praised the strides Price has made in all aspects. The St. John Bosco product is not one to shy from putting in the work, investing the time.

On Saturday, it showed ... that in the near future he has the makings of becoming a pretty solid quarterback - and leader.

After the game, I informed him that some of the UW faithful likely watched his performance with an eye toward next season. Then I asked him if he felt he played well enough to solidifying his standing as the heir apparent.

"I'm not sure. I'm just taking it one day at a time," he responded.

And he smiled widely. It was what he didn't say that convinced me he knew he had.