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Originally published April 23, 2011 at 6:39 PM | Page modified April 23, 2011 at 6:57 PM

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Quarterbacks take the spotlight

UW coach Steve Sarkisian has done little to tip his hand about which way the Huskies may go at quarterback — sophomore Keith Price or redshirt freshman Nick Montana.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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As the Washington Huskies held their second major scrimmage of the spring Saturday, Jake Locker watched on high with his dad from the upper reaches of the north stands at Memorial Stadium, attempting to stay as inconspicuous as possible.

It was a somewhat fitting setting, however, as the specter of Locker — or more specifically, how the team replaces in him 2011 — continues to hover over the Huskies.

UW coach Steve Sarkisian has done little to tip his hand about which way the Huskies may go — sophomore Keith Price or redshirt freshman Nick Montana. Sarkisian has said consistently the race is wide open, and the two quarterbacks all spring have split time working with the number one and two offenses, as they did again Saturday.

After the scrimmage in front of about 1,000 sun-drenched fans, however, Sarkisian mentioned Price first when asked who stood out, then later elaborated on why he thought Price had a good day.

"He threw the ball down the field well," Sarkisian said. "I thought his pocket presence was good moving around in the pocket. And his command. I thought Nick did some nice things as well. But through it all I thought Keith showed some real pocket presence and then his ability to create with his feet and allow plays to develop even longer and then make some plays."

Price was unofficially 15 of 23 passing for 161 yards and two touchdowns, one a 25-yard strike to Jermaine Kearse in the end zone on what might have been the highlight offensive play of the day.

Price also threw a 15-yard scoring pass to running back Johri Fogerson, who also had the best day for all running backs with 76 yards on seven carries, including runs of 30 and 23.

Montana led one touchdown drive, which ended with a 1-yard run by Chris Polk, and was unofficially 13 of 19 for 86 yards.

Each quarterback had as much responsibility as at any time this spring as the coaches kept to the sidelines and signaled the plays in to create as much of a game-like atmosphere as possible, something Sarkisian called "a big step."

Indeed, the coaches are looking not only for someone to replace what Locker brought tangibly but also his leadership.

"That command that it takes at the line of scrimmage and in the huddle is critical and is evaluated daily, and I think both of them have gotten better," Sarkisian said. "But there is still plenty of room to grow in that area."

Sarkisian has indicated he likely wouldn't announce a starting quarterback until the fall, and asked about that Saturday he said: "Again, when it feels right, I'm going to do it. I'm not putting a timeline on it. We'll see where we're at. I don't know."

For the entire offense, it was a bit of a step up from last Saturday's scrimmage, which had been dominated by the defense, though the No. 1 defense, in particular, still proved pretty stout.

"I thought there was a little bit more rhythm to the offense today," Sarkisian said.

Price said the reason for that was simple: "Motivation. The defense kind of got after us all of last week, so we wanted some revenge today."

On his first drive of the day, guiding the No. 2 offense against the No. 2 defense, Price led a 59-yard scoring drive in nine plays, keyed by a 22-yard screen pass to Jesse Callier and then a short pass that Fogerson ran in for the TD from 15 yards out.

In the second half, Price led the No. 1 offense against what was a mix of defensive players on a 57-yard drive, capped by the 25-yard TD pass to Kearse.

"He saw me just a one-on-one matchup, me and the corner," Kearse said. "And he always tells me if I see you one-on-one with a corner I'm going to go to you, and that's exactly what happened."

Montana led a 35-yard, nine-play drive for a TD, hitting Kearse for 16 yards on a third-and-13 play to set up Polk's run.

Kicker Erik Folk was 3 for 3 on field goals in what was a fairly mistake-free scrimmage. There were no turnovers, and few penalties until a final drive led by Price that came undone by two illegal procedures.

Maybe just as important, there were also no new injuries, though the offensive line played without starting right tackle Ben Riva, out since Tuesday with a sore foot. That has UW playing without both of its starting tackles, one thing that has helped the No. 1 defensive line often get the upper hand.

Unofficially, there were six sacks.

NOTE

• Sarkisian said he liked playing at Memorial Stadium, saying it provided a nice break from the routine of spring practice. He said Memorial Stadium could prove to be a good host for the 2012 Spring Game, when Husky Stadium will be under renovation.

Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or bcondotta@seattletimes.com.

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