SEATTLE – A change in venue seemed to bring out the best in the offense of the University of Washington football team on Saturday.
Making their first appearance at Memorial Stadium near the Space Needle, the Huskies brought out a decent crowd of about 1,000 people who watched the offense close the gap with UW’s veteran defense.
“We were moving the ball pretty good,” said quarterback Keith Price, who completed 15 of 23 passes for 177 yards and two touchdowns while taking about half the snaps in the 80-play session. “A couple mistakes here and there, but I think all in all it was a good day.”
Price, who appeared to have a better day than freshman Nick Montana as they battle for the starting job, needed one word to explain why the offense looked so much better than it had in a scrimmage one week earlier.
“Motivation,” Price said. “The defense kind of got after us all of last week.”
While the UW defense still looks like the more polished unit – the offense’s only touchdowns came when most of the defensive starters were on the sidelines – it was an encouraging afternoon for an offense that has plenty of experience but little at the quarterback position.
“I thought there was a little bit more rhythm to the offense today,” head coach Steve Sarkisian said.
When asked who stood out, Sarkisian mentioned Price first. The sophomore-to-be struggled at times in last weekend’s scrimmage, which may well have closed the gap in his ongoing competition with Montana. But the day marked a step in the right direction for Price, who threw touchdown passes of 15 and 24 yards.
Johri Fogerson, who was another of the day’s stars, took a Price pass in the flat and went 15 yards for the first touchdown. Receiver Jermaine Kearse beat walk-on cornerback Ken Egu on a post play for Price’s second touchdown pass.
Montana also had a decent afternoon, despite a slow start against UW’s No. 1 defense. He opened with the No. 1 offense and completed 13 of 20 passes for 103 yards but engineered only one touchdown drive in six chances.
As much as anything, Sarkisian was hoping the session would give the Huskies a spark during the month of three-a-week practice sessions that make up spring football. The new venue and perfect weather turned out to be just what UW needed.
“It’s a new experience, and when you get a new experience, your level of play gets better,” linebacker Cort Dennison said.
“It was good for our kids, to give them something new to spice up spring football,” Sarkisian said. “I thought it was good for our fans to be able to sit in the stands. It was a beautiful day. I think all in all, we got a lot of good work done.”
This year’s installment of the annual spring game will take place Saturday at Husky Stadium.
Jesse Callier (ankle) was back working at full strength after missing more than a week of practices. He carried the ball twice for 3 yards. … Kearse had a team-high five receptions for 58 yards. … Among the players not practicing was tackle Ben Riva, who has been working with the No. 1 offense but suffered a concussion earlier this week. Skyler Fancher started at right tackle in place of Riva.