Keith Price generated considerable buzz before the 2012 season. Coming off a 2011 campaign in which he threw for over 3000 yards, scored 33 touchdowns and completed over 66 percent of his attempts, Price was widely regarded the Pac-12’s second best quarterback.
Like the conference’s overwhelming, presumptive best quarterback Matt Barkley, Price suffered through a disappointing 2012. The Washington Huskies junior took some of the most drastic statistical dips seen in college football: 14 fewer touchdowns. Two more interceptions. Six percent fewer completions. Two-point-one fewer yards per attempt.
A shaky performance in the Huskies’ Las Vegas Bowl loss to Boise State was an unfortunate, but ultimately fitting conclusion to Price’s campaign. It also casts something of a pall over Washington’s 2013 hopes. Which Keith Price will show up? The answer could determine whether UW is competing for a Rose Bowl appearance, or facing yet another seven-win finish.
Steve Sarkisian has a recipe to take Washington on a run to the Pac-12 championship game. His complete overhaul of the defensive coaching staff before last season paid immediate dividends. The Huskies dropped their point per game yield more than two touchdowns-with-PATs’ worth, from 35.9 to 24.2.
But Washington also went from scoring over 33 points per game, to just 24. An offensive drop-off coinciding with a similar defensive improvement might suggest a stark contrast in tempo; defensive efficiency through offensive ball control. On the contrary, the Huskies actually ran more plays (904) in 2012 than in 2011 (858).
Washington also weathered the departure of stud running back Chris Polk effectively enough, thanks to the emergence of Bishop Sankey as one of the Pac-12’s premier rushers.
The above factors considered, Price’s decline is all the more perplexing. UW did change offensive coordinators in that time, replacing Alabama-bound Doug Nussmeier with Eric Kiesau. Bob Condotta of The Seattle Times reported Price faced an adjustment period without Nussmeirer. Yet, Steve Sarkisian was the play caller both seasons.
Whatever the cause, Price has no lack of a support system surrounding his effort to rebound. In addition to Sankey, the UW offense returns talented wide-out Kasen Williams. Tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins is among the best at his position in all college football. And as for Price himself, he know he’s capable of greatness. He proved it throughout an entire season.
Should Keith Price return to his 2011 level in 2013, it would be among the more noteworthy quarterback story lines.