Huskies notebook: Sarkisian heaps praise on play of QB Price

Washington coach effusive in describing sophomore leader

By Matt Calkins, Columbian Sports Reporter

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SEATTLE — When discussing his team’s heart Saturday, Washington coach Steve Sarkisian’s praise was skyscraper-high. But when talking about his quarterback, the acclaim reached Himalayan heights.

Keith Price has been astounding through his first games as the Huskies quarterback, entering the game against Cal with a national-best 11 touchdown passes, and adding three more before the day was over. And even though the Pac-12 is replete with NFL caliber quarterbacks, Sarkisian didn’t hesitate to put his guy up with the best.

“He is so accurate, unbelievably accurate, he’s playing at as high a level as he can play as a quarterback,” Sarkisian said. “I know there’s Andrew Luck (Stanford) and Matt Barkley (USC), but the level that Keith Price is playing at is as high as anyone in our conference.”

Price, a sophomore, was tasked with replacing Jake Locker, the eighth overall pick in this past NFL Draft. And so far, there hasn’t appeared to be a dip in production at quarterback. Sarkisian had no problem reeling off some of Price’s numbers this year, but when a reporter decided to do the same in front of Price, the California native was borderline blushing.

“You’re reading those stats to me? I didn’t even know,” Price said before deferring to his teammates. “The offensive is playing great. Guys are getting open. It’s my offensive line. It’s everyone around me.”

Price may not have expected such stratospheric statistics (983 yards on 75 of 112 passing) this soon, but one thing that wasn’t lacking was his faith in his ability. Asked if games such as Saturday’s (292 yards on 19 of 25 passing) improved his confidence, Price quickly pointed out that that was never an issue.

“I always had confidence in myself,” Price said. “I think it was more you guys (the media) who thought it was an issue.”

UW’s defense stepped up when it mattered

Huskies defensive coordinator Nick Holt said the main thing he will remember Saturday is that his team “stopped them when we needed to.” Cal did, after all, amass 457 yards of offense — a total that generally begets more than 23 points.

But four times — including the Bears’ final drive of the game — the Huskies were able to prevent Cal from scoring a touchdown from within the red zone.

Huskies linebacker Timu OK after neck injury

After enduring a hit in the third quarter, Washington freshman linebacker John Timu was taken off the field in an ambulance and transported to Harbor View Hospital for neck examinations. Sarkisian said that he was moving all of his limbs on the field, and that the trip to the hospital was more precautionary.

Huskies linebacker Garret Gilliland said that Timu’s injury sent a jolt of inspiration throughout the team.

Matt Calkins can be contacted at 360-735-4528 or email matt.calkins@columbian.com