Senior quarterback Keith Price has accomplished much in his three years as Washington’s starting quarterback, but beating the Oregon Ducks is not on his resume.
He’s not alone—dozens of Huskies and a few coaching regimes have come and gone since Washington last scored a victory in one of the Pac-12 Conference’s most bitter rivalries.
In what was an altogether trying junior season for Price, Oregon’s ninth straight win over Washington—a 52-21 rout—was a particularly tough game. He went 19-for-31 with no touchdowns and two interceptions.
Just over a year has passed since that night, and Price is playing with renewed confidence. He’s coming off one of the premier performances of his career in last week’s clash with Stanford, as he continues to flourish in a new offensive system.
“The uptempo stuff has really helped Keith,” Washington head coach Steve Sarkisian said on Tuesday’s Pac-12 coaches teleconference call. “He’s a guy who can really handle making quick decisions.”
Recognizing the need for change offensively, Sarkisian introduced a hurry-up, no-huddle offense in the offseason. One of the changes the new system brought was pulling Price out of his own head.
“[The scheme] minimizes some of the analysis for him. He’s such a bright guy…and at times he can overanalyze in the huddle,” Sarkisian said. “This forces him to play fast.”
Price has taken to the system well, and the veteran quarterback leads Washington’s best threat to ending Oregon’s reign of dominance in the series.
Along with Heisman Trophy-contending running back Bishop Sankey and playing behind one of the conference’s most veteran offensive lines, Price has Washington scoring 37.4 points per game.
Last week’s performance against Stanford set a new bar for Price despite the loss. He battled through a thumb injury late, and led four Husky scoring drives on the night.
He capped two with passing touchdowns.
Price has multiple passing touchdowns in each of the Huskies’ first five games. Conversely, the Oregon defense has yet to allow more than one passing touchdown by an opposing quarterback yet this season.
One streak will end Saturday. If it’s Oregon’s, two Duck streaks could very well snap.
The Oregon defense is built on generating turnovers, which the offense cashes in with quick scores. Oregon’s plus-nine turnover margin ranks second in the country.
“Taking care of the football is paramount, yet [Price]’s going to have to remain aggressive,” Sarkisian said. “He’s done a really nice job of taking care of the football for us this year. He’s making great decisions of throwing the ball away and when he’s running the ball, taking care of it.”
For all the ups and downs Price has endured in his time at Washington, a win over Oregon would be the ultimate peak. And with the senior captaining the offense, Saturday is Washington’s opportunity.
Kyle Kensing is the Pac-12 Lead Writer. All quotes were obtained firsthand, unless otherwise noted. Follow Kyle on Twitter: @kensing45.