Leading into Saturday's game, my opinion of Keith Price was the same as it was after seeing him start against Oregon last year. Price would be capable of running an offense and distributing the football. Other than those two skills, I did not think he had the potential to turn into a premier weapon for the Husky offense.
After Saturday's 315 passing yards and four touchdown performance, I'll say that the Compton, California native is more than just an adequate replacement for Jake Locker. He could be the next in line of accomplished quarterbacks from UW.
Now, I'm not saying he's great and legendary after two starts in 2011, but he definitely has the opportunity and potential to be great. Price did exactly what he was supposed do against a soft Hawaii defense. He put them up against the ropes right away, completing his first eight passes in the first quarter and putting the Huskies up 21-0 over Hawaii. Not too bad of a start for a player who fans have had their doubts about.
Price won't be facing Hawaii's defense every week, and perhaps the verdict won't be out until Pac-12 play begins. Still, I'm beginning to understand why Husky Head Coach Steve Sarkisian likes him so much.
Price is efficient and deadly accurate. This is not a shot at Locker but it has been refreshing to see a quarterback put up a rating of 222.6. Locker's career high? A 216.2 rating against California in 2009. Price has only started three games, he has a chance to put up even better passing performances with three years ahead of him.
On Saturday we saw what Price was capable of doing under more aggressive play-calling by Sarkisian; he can stay in the pocket and move the ball vertically. Sarkisian learned his lesson about conservative play-calling against Eastern Washington and took some risks and gave Price the green light to make longer passes.
After failing to complete one pass longer than 10 yards in week one, Price completed eight passes for more than ten yards including a 47 yard completion to tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins and a 59 yard strike to Devin Aguilar in the first quarter. Both passes unsurprisingly eventually led to touchdowns.
If Price can become a legitimate offensive weapon himself, the sophomore will make this Husky offense even more dynamic and harder to defend for the next three years. It's hard to play against a QB that has faith in his receivers and is willing to utilize all of them. His 18 completions reached the hands of nine different receivers.
Price said it best to the media after Saturday's game:
I just like throwing the ball to guys that are open. (Via: Seattle Times)
I'm excited about Keith Price and you should be too. We learned on Saturday of the level he can compete at. The coaches have probably known for awhile, but its relieving and uplifting to finally see it happen on the field.
Price doesn't need to be an All-American for the Huskies to be successful; he has one of the best running backs in the country in Chris Polk and he has more than a couple of decent wide receivers to throw to.
With this said, if the same Keith Price from Saturday continues to show up, I don't think there is any doubt in my mind that the Huskies will be in a bowl game when it's all said and done. That my fellow Husky fans is a very comforting thought.