As far as Washington football coach Steve Sarkisian is concerned, it’s nonsense to even ask if he might go with a backup quarterback against Oregon State today.
Keith Price has been struggling mightily, but Sarkisian is sticking with his starter.
“That’s such a crazy thought,” Sarkisian said. “Keith Price is our quarterback.”
Price’s struggles have been the talk of Seattle.
Six of his eight interceptions have come in the last three games, all losses.
Price had two picks in each loss and the team lost six fumbles in that stretch as well.
Price has thrown for eight scores. Last year he had 11 interceptions and 33 touchdown passes.
“He’s trying really hard. He’s an ultra-competitive kid and I really appreciate that about him,” Sarkisian said.
“He wants to be so right that, in the end, as human beings, the person you trust the most is yourself and the person you lean on the most is yourself. I think at times he’s trying to rely on him right now to figure it out.”
UW’s 52-17 loss at Arizona last Saturday brought up questions about how much faith Price had in Sarkisian and his game plan.
Sarkisian said if a quarterback isn’t totally sold on the plan, it can have a strong effect on his game.
“You can be late with the ball, the rush can get there because you’re holding on to the ball a bit longer, the windows close faster so throws that shouldn’t be as contested become more contested. Your ability to trust in your playmakers to make plays when they are in one-on-one settings isn’t quite as high. All of those things start to factor in,” he said.
“When you add all that up, that’s not great.”
Sarkisian said he made the point to Price that he would never put him in a position where he wouldn’t be able to succeed.
“My goal is that he believes in me and my ability to prepare him to put together a game plan and to call plays that he can execute and execute at a high level,” Sarkisian said. “I just want him to believe in me as much as he believes in himself.”
Airing it out in Arizona
Price wound up throwing 52 passes in the loss to the Wildcats. He completed 29 with the two picks.
He wasn’t able to stretch the field, however. He threw for 256 yards, an average of 4.9 a toss.
“We felt like we had some opportunities to throw it. We felt that there were some things for us down the field to take advantage of, some of which we did, some of which we didn’t for a variety of reasons,” Sarkisian said. “We missed a couple reads, we missed a couple throws, we didn’t pass protect the way I thought we would be capable of pass protecting. Then the score gets to where you kind of have to throw if you want to win the game.”
Game plan gone bad
Despite a strong week of practice, the Huskies fell flat in Tucson.
Sarkisian said the offense, defense and special teams plans all failed.
“You don’t execute those same plays whether it was on offense, defense or special teams the same way you did on Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday, then there’s a bit of a disconnect there that maybe the game plan wasn’t as good as we thought because one way or another it didn’t get done,” he said.
“We’re being extremely critical of ourselves of what we’re putting on our kids, what we’re asking them to do to ensure that we’re putting them in position to be successful because that’s ultimately what we want to have happen.”
A one-week rally?
UW gets OSU at CentruyLink Field today, where the Huskies have won three of four.
The Beavers will prove a strong test, particularly for a team teetering on the brink of a breakdown.
Nevertheless, Sarkisian said the Huskies can come together.
“I think we’ve got a group of people here that believe that we can make changes in a week’s span that are capable enough of winning this football game,” he said. “But it’s going to take a group effort. It’s not about one individual or two individuals. It’s going to take an entire group effort to make that happen and I firmly believe that it can.”