Keith Price was swallowed by the talking-head filled tents at Pac-12 Media Day in Culver City, Calif., last week. The demand made him last to arrive at Washington’s designated lunch table.
Price ran through a litany of interviews, mostly with out-of-town folks working off what they heard and read about his 2012 season. They asked over and over which Price will show up in 2013. He’s used to it now.
Really, Price was just anxious to head home and see his family. Safety Sean Parker, another California kid, was going to head over to the Price house, too.
“Guess that’s where the party’s at,” Price joked.
He hopes the parties during the season are in the end zone. Price has taken the torch from Jake Locker in more than one way. He’s the face of the program, a senior leader now, and the easily the most criticized player on the team.
Price brutalized himself over his late-game mistakes last season, a year that was a significant downturn from his debut year in 2011. Much of talk radio brutalized him, too. There were even misguided, wrong-headed calls for him to be benched. The wonder about what Price will produce this year has continued into the offseason and will until Aug. 31.
“I know people need a topic for the offseason,” Price told the TNT. “I know I’m the topic. I’m the hot topic right now, I guess. When they talk Husky football, they want to mention my name every time. But, hey, it’s understandable. I’m the quarterback of the team. I shoulder the losses. I blame myself. I feel like I’m battle-tested. I’ve been at the high of the high and the low of the low. I’m just ready to perform.”
This is it for Price. He’s a fifth-year senior. He’s surrounded by as much skill-player talent as he had in 2011. He contends the offensive line, which struggled more than any other unit last season, is getting better by the day. He says his grumpy knees feel great.
“We’re going to be awesome (on offense),” Price said. “I guess I’m the biggest question mark now. That’s funny. We’re going to be fine. We weren’t a very good offensive team last year. Point blank. This year, we got a chance.”
He’s also become more taskmaster and less pure pal during summer workouts. If players were late, he was irritated and told them. Even Steve Sarkisian noted that Price had become tougher on the people around him. That means his demands on them are catching up with the demands he puts on himself.
If Price is able to level-out his two seasons as the starting quarterback, his 2013 line will look like this: 63.4 percent completion percentage, 2,895 yards, 27 touchdowns, 12 interceptions and a 142.1 efficiency rating.
A season like that will also make Price second all-time in passing yards at Washington and only the second Washington quarterback to throw for more than 8,000 yards (Cody Pickett has the record of 10,220). The owner of the No. 1, No. 3 and No. 5 best completion percentages in a season at Washington and the best career completion percentage. The owner of the No. 1, No. 3 and No. 8 spots in touchdown passes in a season. He’ll also no doubt become the Huskies’ all-time passing touchdown leader. He’s one touchdown behind Pickett’s 55 career touchdowns passes despite throwing 598 fewer passes (1,429 to 831 coming into this year).
Price will also be No. 1 in career passing efficiency with an average of his two seasons. He’s No.1 now with a 138.9 rating after two seasons. Second is Damon Huard, who had a 130.3 career rating.
If he throws 12 interceptions this year, he will move into a tie for fourth in that category. Though, coming into the season, he has the second-lowest career interception percentage at the school at .0289. Only Isaiah Stanback, who threw about 300 fewer passes, has a better rating at .0229. A good comparison point is Brock Huard. Brock threw 875 passes. Price has thrown 831. Brock’s interception percentage is .0354, as is Damon’s. Marques Tuiasosopo’s is .0355.
“My uncle said something the other day, ‘Man they’re doubting you, but for any other quarterback, that’s probably a good season (2012) for some people,’ ” Price said. “I said, ‘I’m not any other quarterback. I set a certain expectation for myself and I’m expected to perform at that level.’ ”
Therein lies the easiest solution for Price. Dramatic, game-changing errors — like at the end of the Apple Cup, among others last season — need to go away. His completion percentage needs to again rise. It fell from a crisp 66.9 percent in 2011 to 60.9 percent last season.
If those things happen, though it’s everyone else talking, Price will actually dictate the words coming out of their mouths.
Next in line: Cyler Miles. Rangy, fast and confident, Miles appears the clear choice behind Price. Miles was able to redshirt in 2012, which was ideal for him and Washington since he wasn’t game ready yet. In the spring, Miles was listed at 6-4, 223 pounds. He has room to add weight and will likely have a larger number next to his name when the official heights and weights are released Monday.
After that: Jeff Lindquist looked sharp at times in practice, but also struggled, the usual for a redshirt freshman.
The future: During spring ball, Troy Williams often had trouble against the backups. It’s no surprise for someone who just stepped on campus from high school. He’ll be able to redshirt this year, allowing Washington to set up a nice lineage at quarterback.