Monday afternoon there were references to the 2011 Alamo Bowl.
In a decided shift of the conversation, this time when “Alamo Bowl” and “Keith Price” were mentioned together, it wasn’t while wondering if that version of Price would show up again. That’s because it did Saturday night against Boise State.
Price threw an interception on his first pass against the Broncos. After that, he threw the ball away three times on purpose. Subtracting those four throws makes him 23-for-27 otherwise, a completion rate of 85.2 percent.
Washington coach Steve Sarkisian was pleased with the majority of what Price did Saturday night during Washington’s 38-6 bludgeoning of 19th-ranked Boise State, save the one sack he took.
As the game went on, Sarkisian said Price played better.
“Nobody prepared more, nobody was more ready to go play the game,” Sarkisian said. “I think he was just white-knuckled (in the first half). He grabbed the ball a little too hard. Settle down and play the game. I thought he did that.
“To me, it was just him going back to playing football. That’s what I was hopeful we could get to.”
The majority of Price’s throws were a short distance. But, they were on point and on time. More importantly, Boise State couldn’t figure out where the ball was going.
Washington ran the same formations multiple times against Boise State. Often, Price threw a bubble screen to the sideline, left or right. Bishop Sankey carried 25 times for 161 yards out of the single-back sets. Faking handoffs to him left Boise State a half-step behind all game, making the Broncos late to help on the perimeter where Jaydon Mickens thrived on his way to 109 receiving yards.
“It was a great mix,” Price said. “We really didn’t have any tendencies. I throw the bubble here, we hand it off and get 6 or 7 yards, next thing you know, we’re hitting them down the middle for a big gain or we’re hitting them up top on the post.”
Price connected with seven receivers, the kind of variety Washington hoped for coming into this season after relying heavily on Kasen Williams and Austin Seferian-Jenkins last year. And, that was without Seferian-Jenkins, who was suspended for the opener. He will be back for game two at Illinois in Chicago on Sept. 14.
Despite the crisp outing, Price was still searching for things to get better at and received suggestions from a recent friend.
Price said Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson sent him a long, three-point text message postgame, advising him to keep his eyes downfield, not to take sacks and slide in the pocket. The two began talking when Wilson arrived in Seattle. He called Price after former teammate Jermaine Kearse gave Wilson his old quarterback’s number.
The most important number from Saturday may be the one sack Price took. Since he copped to scrambling into it, the offensive line can take solace. Price had so much time, and was so unaccustomed to it, he had to discard some habits from last year.
“It was different,” Price said. “A couple times at the end of the first half, I started getting happy feet and getting out (of) the pocket before I had to. I wasn’t used to it. I kind of had to adjust my game and it paid off.”
The shift to a full-time up-tempo offense has changed what the offense accentuates. In the past, Sarkisian wanted to shorten the game by reducing the number of plays. Now, the Huskies want to move even faster than they did Saturday when they got off 85 plays, well above last season’s average of 69.5.
“(This) emphasizes our skill players and de-emphasizes up front,” Sarkisian said.
For one game, it worked.