SEATTLE – An encouraging MRI result on the hurt knee of Keith Price has only added questions, not answers, to the University of Washington’s quarterback situation.
And yet that’s only one of the things ailing Husky football these days.
While the Huskies received good news Tuesday in that there is no structural damage on Price’s injured left knee, they still haven’t decided whether he’s healthy enough to start Saturday at Oregon State. An even bigger question is whether UW is in the midst of a midseason swoon or just coming out of a recent run of bouts against heavyweight title contenders.
“Three of the last four weeks, we’ve played some really good football teams,” said UW coach Steve Sarkisian, whose team has lost three of its last four games – all to ranked teams that have each beaten the Huskies by margins of at least 17 points. “I don’t want to not give them credit; they are good teams. Stanford, Oregon, (USC) – those are good teams. But I also know that we are better than that way we played.”
While Sarkisian may know it, there are those who are beginning to wonder. Three blowout losses in less than a month has a team that started 5-1 and was actually in the race for the Rose Bowl just thankful to have bowl eligibility.
The murderers’ row of opponents is behind UW, so Sarkisian is hoping that his team can get right in time for games against struggling Oregon State and Washington State on the next two Saturdays.
“This is gut-check time,” he said this week, as his team prepares for a Saturday game at OSU (2-8 overall, 2-5 Pac-12). “We’re going to find out if we’re a resilient group or not.”
The Huskies may have to do that without the services of their starting quarterback. Price hurt his left knee in the third quarter of Saturday’s loss at USC and has yet to practice this week – although he was in uniform Tuesday and threw a few passes before team drills began. Redshirt freshman Nick Montana is next in line to start, should Price be unable to play Saturday.
While Price has struggled during UW’s four-week fall from grace, he’s not the only Husky to see his season take a turn for the worse. The offensive line has been manhandled in back-to-back losses, while running back Chris Polk has seen his long-shot Heisman Trophy chances go up in smoke with 116 total rushing yards and in the past two games. Receivers Jermaine Kearse (five receptions) and Devin Aguilar (two) have also been rather quiet in the losses to Oregon and USC.
The Huskies (6-4, 4-3) have three easy excuses for their recent struggles in No. 4 Oregon, No. 8 Stanford and No. 18 USC. But the UW players aren’t interested in using the level of competition as a reason for their four-week fall from grace.
“We have played some really good football teams, but we feel like we’re a really good football team too,” senior linebacker Cort Dennison said. “It’s totally inexcusable. I guarantee every other kid on this team, and our coaches, would say it’s inexcusable to play how we’ve played.”