SEATTLE – Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck came into the 2011 season on a magic carpet, swooping in with the kind of accolades reserved for once-a-decade stars such as Peyton Manning and John Elway. Before taking a single snap this year, he was already anointed as the finest quarterback in the country, a Heisman Trophy front-runner and the sure-fire No. 1 overall pick in next April’s draft.
Through six games, all he’s done is exceed those expectations.
And yet as he prepares to play against a surprising University of Washington football team that is tied with the Cardinal atop the Pacific-12 Conference North Division standings, Luck is in the rare position of facing a quarterback with similar statistical stature.
UW’s Keith Price had nowhere near the preseason expectations – remember, he wasn’t even supposed to be able to fill the shoes of 2010 Heisman flop Jake Locker – but he’s run stride-for-stride with Luck.
While Luck has found a way to live up to all the Heisman hype this season, Price has done something even more unthinkable in that he’s created a bit of his own.
It’s a subject that makes Price shudder.
“Oh, man, that is crazy,” he said Monday when asked about being a Heisman contender. “A couple of weeks ago, that wasn’t even a word. So I’m not even worried about that.”
Price’s numbers through six games have been right up there with those of national stars such as Luck, Boise State’s Kellen Moore and Baylor’s Robert Griffin III.
He ranks second in the country in touchdown passes (21, one behind the nation-leading total of Baylor’s Griffin) and fifth in passing efficiency rating (177.91, which ranks behind Luck, Moore, Griffin and national leader Russell Wilson of Wisconsin). Price has thrown at least three touchdown passes in every game this season while leading a UW offense that has scored 30-plus points every time out.
He has even started to get some national attention, including a recent piece in Sports Illustrated’s Inside College Football section. He recently did interviews with ESPN’s College Football Live and for USA Today.
Luck has taken notice.
“I saw him play a little bit against Cal on TV during our bye week, and he makes plays,” Stanford’s all-everything quarterback told reporters Tuesday. “He does a good job with that. (Saturday’s game) should be fun. It’s always fun to go against a team with a good offense.”
Price has been humbled by the attention, but he’s doing his best to ignore it.
“It’s the same for me,” he said. “I’m just going to go out and give 100 percent. … My grandma likes it. She likes all that stuff.”