SEATTLE – The final two minutes of Saturday’s University of Washington spring football game were a microcosm of the quarterback battle that dominated the month of practices.
With less than two minutes remaining, and his team trailing 24-7, freshman quarterback Nick Montana hit Cody Bruns for a 70-yard touchdown pass to close out his afternoon, and his spring, on a strong note.
But as far as Montana’s fate went, both in terms of the spring game and his hopes of overcoming Keith Price in the quarterback battle, it was too little, too late.
While coach Steve Sarkisian made no official announcement following the session, the writing appears to be on the wall that Price will be the Huskies’ starting quarterback heading into the fall.
Price, who will be a third-year sophomore in the fall, already has experience on his side. And after Saturday, he also has the best lasting impression on the UW coaching staff.
“I thought he played well today,” Sarkisian said after an estimated crowd of 10,000 showed up to watch Price and the Huskies play their annual intrasquad game at Husky Stadium. “But as I’ve touched on before, (the scrimmage) wasn’t going to define who was our starting quarterback. It’s a body of work, and I’ll give myself and my offensive staff some time to evaluate the entire body of work of 15 practices.”
The day before the game – the score was Dawgs 31, Huskies 14 – Sarkisian said that he’s essentially made up the quarterback decision in his own mind. But he’s still mulling over how and when to announce it.
“When the timing is right, we’ll make our decision,” he said. “Until then, I think it’s a great battle to watch these guys compete – not necessarily with one another but with themselves.”
If the game was any indication, the decision looks like an easy one. Price overcame a slow start to complete 20 of 28 passes for 212 yards and three touchdowns. He also ran for a 29-yard touchdown on a bootleg play on third-and-2 to answer Montana’s long touchdown pass to Bruns.
Over his final six drives, Price was 18 for 23 passing, had a hand in four touchdowns and led a fifth scoring drive that resulted in a field goal. His only non-scoring drive in that span came after tight end Michael Hartvigson caught a 27-yard pass and fumbled the football away at the 10-yard line.
Montana, meanwhile, struggled for the most part until throwing the touchdown pass to Bruns while running the No. 1 offense. He completed 9 of 20 passes for 155 yards and two scores.