QB Keith Price has shot to ‘define his career’ at UW
UW coach Steve Sarkisian, for one, is confident Price can finish his college career with a flourish.
Seattle Times staff reporter
UW @ UCLA, 6 p.m., ESPN2
The days at Washington are winding down for senior quarterback Keith Price.
Price’s first game at the Rose Bowl against UCLA on Friday will also be one of his last chances to enhance his legacy in his third and final season as the starting quarterback. And UW coach Steve Sarkisian, for one, is confident Price can finish his college career with a flourish.
“Keith has an opportunity to walk out of here as one of the greats,” Sarkisian said Wednesday. “The numbers already tell us that. But he has a chance here this month of November — like this team — to really define his career.”
No one on the UW roster has played a game for the Huskies inside the Rose Bowl. Price, then a redshirting freshman, made the trip to Pasadena in 2009 but did not play in the Huskies’ 24-23 loss to the Bruins. “So I kind of know what to expect,” he said.
He will play a vital role Friday night when the Huskies (6-3, 3-3 Pac-12) hope to turn around their conference road woes against the Bruins (7-2, 4-2). Kickoff is set for 6 p.m. for an ESPN2 broadcast.
Growing up in Compton, Calif., Price envisioned playing against UCLA in the Rose Bowl one day. Except, in his dreams, he was always wearing a USC uniform.
“But,” he said after UW practice Wednesday, “I’m glad I’m here now.”
With two touchdowns in UW’s rout of Colorado last week, Price moved into a tie with former USC quarterback Carson Palmer for 10th place on the Pac-12 career list with 72 touchdown passes. With two more touchdowns in front of family and friends at the Rose Bowl, Price would move into ninth place that list.
“He’s in a great frame of mind right now; I think he’s playing really good football,” Sarkisian said. “I thought the character he showed battling through the thumb injury and the tough game at Arizona State, to bounce back and play the way he has the last two weeks, he’s setting himself up for a great run to finish his career.”
The Huskies haven’t defeated UCLA at the Rose Bowl since 1995, and UW is 3-8 in its last 11 conference road games. The latest loss was a 53-24 shocker at Arizona State last month, which came on the heels of back-to-back losses at Stanford and against Oregon.
“We know we’re a much better team than we played that weekend (at Tempe),” said Price, who ranks fourth in the Pac-12 with a passer rating of 154.4, with 18 touchdowns and four interceptions. “They thumped us pretty good. I’m not taking anything away from Arizona State, but that wasn’t our best — that was nowhere near our best. So we’ll be fine.
“We’re confident. We understand that this is going to be a great matchup, and may the better team win.”
UCLA QB Hundley a handful, too
By one count, the Husky defense blitzed Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota just four times last month in UW’s loss to the Ducks. The idea was to keep Mariota contained and make him beat the Huskies with his arm.
Mariota ended up beating them with his arm and legs. And, now, here comes UCLA’s high-profile dual-threat quarterback Brett Hundley. Like Mariota, Hundley is also a projected first-round NFL draft pick.
“We wanted to keep our eyes on Marcus,” Sarkisian said. “That’s why we were dropping a lot of eight-man drops, trying to have guys on him. We couldn’t catch him very good, obviously, especially in the third-and-longs. We’re going to have to mix it up against Brett. He’s a really good player. He’s smart. I think Noel Mazzone is an excellent offensive coordinator (for UCLA).
“If you just stay in the same thing they’ll get after you, they’ll pick you apart. So we’re going to have to have some variety.”
Hundley, listed at 6 feet 3, 222 pounds, has thrown for 18 touchdowns against eight interceptions this season, completing 68.5 percent of his throws. His passer rating of 154.8 is third in the Pac-12, and he also leads the Bruins in rushing with 487 yards and seven touchdowns.
“He’s got a very strong arm, runs the offense,” UW defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox said. “They’ve got a really good scheme and they’ve got good players. He delivers the ball well — very strong guy.”
• Sarkisian is hopeful senior safety Will Shamburger, another L.A. native, can return vs. UCLA on Friday night. Sarkisian hasn’t confirmed Shamburger’s specific injury.
• True freshman Kevin King made his first career start in Shamburger’s place against Colorado and drew solid reviews, despite getting beat deep by Colorado standout receiver Paul Richardson on the Buffs’ lone touchdown.
Adam Jude: 206-464-2364 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Twitter: @a_jude