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Originally published November 16, 2011 at 8:53 PM | Page modified November 17, 2011 at 2:32 PM

Sarkisian says he's still not certain who will start at QB

If Nick Montana does indeed make his first career start Saturday at Oregon State, he'll be well prepared.

Seattle Times staff reporter

Saturday

UW @ Oregon St., 12:30 p.m., ROOT Sports

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If Nick Montana does indeed make his first career start Saturday at Oregon State, he'll be well prepared.

For the third straight practice, Montana on Wednesday took all the snaps with the No. 1 offense while the injured Keith Price watched.

But while the practice time might hint at a Montana start, UW coach Steve Sarkisian said after practice he had not made a decision. He also said that when he does make a decision — likely on Thursday — he will tell the team but not announce it publicly.

"You guys won't know, but we'll know," he said. "The team will know."

While Price didn't do any work during team sessions, Sarkisian said he moved around better in some individual drills. And he said that gave him reason to think there was a chance Price could play in Corvallis.

"I don't want to put him out here if I don't think he's mobile enough to move to avoid some of the hits that are potentially out there to take," Sarkisian said. "And so he'll be in to get treatment tonight and then again in the morning, and I'll have a real understanding of what he looks like. ... I thought Keith moved better today ... than he did yesterday or the day before."

Price, who has had injuries of varying degrees to both knees all season, suffered a sprained left knee in Saturday's 40-17 loss at USC. He had an MRI on Monday that revealed no structural damage.

"It's just swelling," Sarkisian said. "There's a sprain in there, pretty good. ... obviously a sprain to cause that swelling, but it's not structural in a sense to where he's got to have surgery or anything of the sort."

Sarkisian said it was possible Price could be well enough to be the backup to Montana as the Huskies are attempting to redshirt true freshman Derrick Brown, who is listed as the No. 3 quarterback, as well as Thomas Vincent, also a true freshman.

As for keeping his decision a secret, Sarkisian said it wasn't for strategic reasons.

"I don't think so, no," he said. " We're not going to change offensively. We run what we run. It's a little too late in the season right now to change who we are and what we do — so we're not going to change that way. But I think there's a psych deal to it for our team; they need to know. The players need to know so they can move forward."

If the starter is Montana — who is 13 for 20 for 147 yards, a touchdown and an interception in reserve duty this year — Sarkisian reiterated that he feels comfortable he can do the job.

"I think he's gotten better consistently the entire time he's been here," he said. "But the last month specifically have been his best practices. He's playing faster, and part of that is — when you get game experience and you realize how fast the game is, you get back out on the practice field and you say, 'OK, I've really got to turn it up, I've really got to speed up'. And it's been a noticeable difference since his first action."

Sarkisian, though, also said that no matter who the quarterback is, the game plan may be rather simple Saturday — get the ball to Chris Polk.

"Regardless of who the quarterback is, if we are going to be successful we've got to run the ball," he said. "And we've got to do it well."

That was something UW was unable to do last week, held to 46 yards on 24 carries with Polk rushing for season lows of 36 yards on nine attempts.

"I think we'll have a plan and Chris will get his carries," Sarkisian said. "But ultimately where the real limitations came was in the second half. He just didn't get carries. And regardless of the score, we have to stick to our plan. And he has to get his carries."

Note

• WR James Johnson, who has missed the last two games with a high ankle sprain, practiced and should play, Sarkisian said.

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

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