With a few strokes of luck, and significantly fewer strikes from Luck, the University of Washington football team might finally shed its decade-long role of conference also-ran and find itself in the rare position as a Pacific-12 Conference contender.
But it’s probably going to take a veteran-like effort from a fuzzy-faced signal-caller to get there.
In a conference that is chock full of experienced quarterbacks (Oregon’s Darron Thomas, Arizona’s Nick Foles, USC’s Matt Barkley, Washington State’s Jeff Tuel and, most notably, Stanford preseason All-American Andrew Luck), the Huskies are one of the few teams attempting to dip a new starter into the pool.
Keith Price, with only one start to his credit, is far and away the least experienced projected starter in the conference heading into fall camp, which begins for the Huskies today.
It speaks volumes that the only senior quarterback among the conference’s top 10 passers last season was UW’s Jake Locker, who ranked eighth in the Pac-10 in passing efficiency (124.3) but went on to become a top-10 pick in the April NFL draft. That means Price is the only quarterback trying to fill big shoes in a conference known for its big-time passers.
And so the big question for UW’s offense is at quarterback, where Price brings just one start and 37 career passes to the party. His inexperience might be the only thing holding this offense back.
One person who believes in Price is the man he’s being asked to replace.
“He came in and did a great job (completing 14 of 28 passes without an interception in his only start) at Oregon,” Locker said via telephone last week from Tennessee Titans training camp. “You got an idea of how confident he is in himself and how talented he is. He believes in himself, he believes in his teammates, and he goes out and plays hard on the field.
“On Saturdays, everybody will be able to see that week in and week out. He should do fine, and there’s no reason they can’t get back to where the program should be.”
By most accounts, the Huskies have the ingredients to get back into the top half of the Pac-12 this season and maybe one day start challenging for Rose Bowls again.
For that to happen, UW is going to need the least experienced starting quarterback in the conference to grow up in a hurry.
And with a little luck, and a little less Luck, maybe the Huskies can contend right away.