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August 29, 2011

Improved Huskies' supporting cast should help Price

The season opener is just days away for the Washington Huskies and the biggest question surrounding the team still remains. Can quarterback Keith Price be the man under center to lead the offense in his first year as the starting quarterback?

He's looked impressive throughout fall camp, distancing himself from Nick Montana as the clear starter, but now he has to prove he can do it on game day this Saturday against Eastern Washington at Husky Stadium.

"He better be ready," coach Steve Sarkisian said. "We're playing."

In his lone collegiate start, Price led the Huskies into Eugene, Ore., where he had his moments but Washington ended up getting trounced 53-16 by the Ducks, who at the time were the No. 1 ranked team in the country.

This time around, Price has had all of the preparation and reps with the first team and the season can't start soon enough for the redshirt sophomore.

"I've waited my whole life," Price said at Monday's season-opening press conference. "I started playing football when I was 7 so I can't wait. I'm too ready, I'm anxious."

No matter how prepared or ready Price may feel, come Saturday when the bullets are live, Price has to continue to make the same smart choices he's made in practice.

"Till the lights are on and it's your team, you never know, but I expect him (Price) to play well," said Sarkisian.

At this point, Price does seem to have the mental abilities to succeed for the Huskies, but it's his physical skill-set that may be the reason for some early struggles.

At just 6-foot-1, 190 pounds, Price is a slender quarterback, especially considering he likes to run the football. To compare, Jake Locker was 6-3, 230 pounds and a much faster runner as well.

That doesn't mean Price won't have success running the football, but he may battle injuries if he becomes primarily a running quarterback.

His passing has been very accurate throughout camp, even when on the run. He seems to hit his receivers in stride giving them the opportunity to make plays after the catch.

Sarkisian talked about Price's quick release being something the team will game-plan around in order to battle his lack of height.

Price has the luxury of an improved offensive line to go along with play-makers all around him on offense, which should allow him to manage the game more than go out and win it on his own.

He may be without running back Chris Polk in the opener, but Jesse Callier and Bishop Sankey appear ready to take on the load for the short term.

On the outside, Price will have several targets to throw to in a deep receiving group led by senior Jermaine Kearse and junior James Johnson, who earned a starting role this season after a strong off-season following last year's disappointing one-catch season.

Price's biggest security blanket may end up being true freshman tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins, who earned a co-starting role after he has emerged as a dominant pass catcher up to this point in fall camp. The Huskies released their post fall camp depth chart Monday.

With the stars aligned around him, Price has everything set in front of him for a strong season as the Huskies quarterback. Saturday he gets his first taste of action and the answer to Washington's quarterback situation will finally get a little bit clearer.

Follow UDubNation's Mitchell Larsen on Twitter @MLarsen_Rivals


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