SEATTLE — Many hailed Keith Price’s performance Saturday against No. 5 Stanford as the best game in his three years as Washington’s starting quarterback.
Price, for his part, called it a “good” effort. But, he added, “I already had high expectations for myself … so I don’t really need a pat on the back from anybody.”
In the Huskies’ 31-28 defeat on the road, the senior quarterback threw for 350 yards with two touchdowns and one interception against, in the words of UW coach Steve Sarkisian, an NFL-caliber front seven. Price was sacked five times, and scrambled away from at least that many more against Stanford, and he played much of the second half with an injured thumb on his right (throwing) hand.
“(After) some of the shots he took, for him to continue to get back up to throw the football, to make really critical throws on third downs in the second half, I just thought was tremendous,” Sarkisian said.
This week, Price has had his thumb wrapped in tape during practices leading up to the game Saturday against No. 2 Oregon.
“It’s a little different,” he said of his grip on the football, “but if I’m healthy enough to come out here and practice, I have to be ready to perform (Saturday).”
Sarkisian said Price has taken “every rep” as usual this week.
“And I think he’s getting better and better throughout the week,” Sarkisian said Wednesday. “He had an excellent practice today. I thought the team in general had a really good practice today, which was positive.”
It’s been an impressive bounce-back season for Price, whose NFL stock is rising along with his passing numbers. In the Huskies’ 4-1 start, Price is completing 71.3 percent of his throws for 11 touchdowns, with three interceptions. His passer rating of 163.4 is third in the Pac-12.
“What we’re doing on offense, from an up-tempo standpoint, is something Keith is taking advantage of,” UW quarterbacks coach Marques Tuiasosopo said. “He’s smart, he’s accurate; he can manage all the things we’re asking him to do, and he’s having a lot of fun with it.”
In the wake of dramatic breakdowns in its kickoff coverage against Stanford, the Huskies are going with their “best guys” on that special-teams unit against the Ducks, Sarkisian said.
Senior kicker/punter Travis Coons has taken over as the kickoff specialist, with freshman kicker Cameron Van Winkle (back) still “a little banged up,” Sarkisian said.
Wednesday, UW’s kickoff coverage unit included six defensive starters plus linebacker Travis Feeney, one of the Huskies’ best special-teams performers.
“I think that was one of the disappointing things coming out of that game last week. … The kick coverage unit was a real factor and it affected the ballgame,” Sarkisian said.
Stanford’s Ty Montgomery returned the opening kickoff 99 yards for a touchdown. Montgomery also had a 72-yard return to set up another Stanford touchdown.
Washington cornerback Greg Ducre grew up with Oregon’s De’Anthony Thomas in Los Angeles. They were teammates at Crenshaw High School, and even at rival schools now, they remain close.
“Can’t wait, can’t wait,” Ducre said, looking ahead to the showdown Saturday at Husky Stadium.
Thomas, Oregon’s do-it-all junior star, sat out the victory at Colorado last week with an ankle injury. Thomas is out of his walking boot this week, according to reports in Eugene, but it’s unclear if he will play against the Huskies.
“He said he’s trying to, but probably not,” Ducre said. “He said he’s trying to, though, so we’ll see.”
• The Huskies unveiled new black matte helmets they will wear against Oregon. The helmet features a purple “W” with a gold outline, and two purple stripes running front to back down the middle of the helmet.
• Freshman Darrell Daniels, a four-star recruit as a wide receiver, has been moved to tight end for at least the rest of this season. “I think he has a chance to be special at the position,” Sarkisian said.
• Washington picked up a recruiting commitment this week from four-star offensive lineman Natrell Curtis of Phoenix, according to multiple reports. The Huskies will reportedly look at Curtis first on the defensive line.
• The Washington-Arizona State game Oct. 19 will kick off at 3 p.m. at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe and will be televised on the Pac-12 Networks.