SEATTLE – It only took about 49 minutes on Saturday night for the Washington football team to renew its appreciation for Keith Price.
After the sophomore quarterback checked into the Huskies’ game at Oregon State with 11½ minutes remaining, nearly saving the day in the process, a reminder was served of just how valuable Price can be to the UW offense.
And so it came with a sigh of relief during Monday afternoon’s press briefing when Huskies coach Steve Sarkisian sprinkled a dose of sunshine in an otherwise gloomy month for UW football.
“Keith will start,” Sarkisian said of Saturday’s Apple Cup game against Washington State.
While perhaps stating the obvious, Sarkisian uttered three words that have never felt better for the UW faithful.
In relief of struggling starter Nick Montana on Saturday afternoon, Price proved to be nearly the savior the Huskies needed. He engineered a touchdown drive to pull UW within 10 points, at 31-21 with 3:31 remaining, then had another shot at paydirt a few seconds later – only to get intercepted at the goal line.
While Price might not have bailed out Montana and the Huskies, he did solidify his spot as UW’s starter and undisputed offensive leader.
“He’s a tremendous leader,” said Sarkisian, the only member of the UW football program made available to the media Monday. “… Keith is a competitive young man. He is tough physically. He is tough mentally. He can endure anything that gets thrown a quarterback’s way.”
Sarkisian went on to describe a scene in which Price, still wearing the jacket of a backup, stepped into a UW defensive huddle Saturday and shouted words of inspiration.
“That might have been the first time I’ve seen that here in three seasons, where an offensive player has gone into a defense’s huddle to show that type of leadership,” Sarkisian said Monday afternoon. “He’s natural at it. The kids really respond to it. And that’s one of the reasons we put him in (the fourth quarter of Saturday’s game).”
Sarkisian said Monday that Price’s injured left knee would not have held up for the entire four quarters of the OSU game, so that’s why Montana made his first start. But the coaches felt good enough about Price in a reduced role that they kept him available on the sideline.