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Originally published October 25, 2013 at 7:23 PM | Page modified October 25, 2013 at 9:49 PM

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Huskies eager to end three-game skid

Quarterback Keith Price, dealing with a thumb injury, will start for Washington on Saturday night when the Huskies play California.


Seattle Times staff reporter

Saturday

California @ Washington, 8 p.m., Fox Sports 1

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The Huskies have been here before.

Last week’s stunning blowout loss at Arizona State left Washington with yet another three-game losing streak, something the Huskies have endured in each of their five seasons under coach Steve Sarkisian, and every year since 2004.

“It’s not easy. It’s not easy for any of us,” Sarkisian said. “All of us still have a bad taste in our mouths, and that’s not a bad thing.”

Sarkisian said Friday he will stick with senior Keith Price as the quarterback as the Huskies (4-3, 1-3 Pac-12) try to end their slide against California (1-6, 0-4) Saturday night. Price aggravated a thumb injury on his throwing hand against Arizona State and has been limited in practice this week, with redshirt freshman Cyler Miles taking most of the reps with the No. 1 offense.

The Huskies are a 28-point favorite over Cal in a game in which UW will honor legendary coach Don James, who died Sunday after a bout with pancreatic cancer.

Kickoff at Husky Stadium is set for 8 p.m. for a national broadcast on Fox Sports 1.

At Arizona State, the Huskies appeared worn down, physically and emotionally, in their 53-24 loss. The effect of playing two top-five opponents in the previous two weeks — at Stanford and against Oregon — might have taken a toll, Sarkisian admitted.

“We’ve done some soul-searching here,” Sarkisian said. “We’ll be ready to go. This group is mature enough to understand the constructive criticism needed to improve, and I think they’ll respond great Saturday night.”

In the big picture, Sarkisian said some of the recurring issues during these rinse-and-repeat three-game losing streaks will have to be dealt with in the offseason.

“This isn’t going to go away,” he said. “We’re going to play Stanford and Oregon every year. If we have to play them back to back every year, so be it. It’s that next game after those hard-fought, emotional battles — how we deal with it. Obviously, we haven’t dealt with them well enough yet up to this point. So back to the drawing board.

“But those talks have to take place in January and have to get worked through in January; we can’t wait until the week of the ballgame.”

Other short-term fixes, Sarkisian insisted, have already been addressed. One of those is the passing game, which has been “out of sorts” lately, Sarkisian said.

Some of that can be traced to Price’s thumb injury suffered against Stanford earlier this month. Price has said his grip is affected, and he could be on a short leash against Cal if his accuracy continues to suffer.

“I’m not going to use the thumb as an excuse,” Price said. “If I’m healthy enough, if I’m out there to play, then I’m healthy enough to make the throws. I would never do anything to jeopardize our team’s chances of winning.”

Price, UW’s all-time leader in touchdown passes, wants to get this team turned around for the final five regular-season games of his career. The Huskies have a bye next week before hosting Colorado on Nov. 9.

“We’re capable of doing it,” Price said. “We have a good team, a very talented team. So it’s going to be fun. The next couple ballgames are going to be fun, and we’re going to learn a lot about ourselves.”

Adam Jude: 206-464-2364 or ajude@seattletimes.com.

On Twitter: @a_jude



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