I’m sure you were all on pins and needles waiting to see who would be No. 1 on this list (which, of course, makes one wonder if anyone has ever actually been on pins and needles).
No surprise that quarterback Keith Price (pictured right in the Alamo Bowl in an Associated Press photo) came in No. 1 on this list after a sophomore season in which he re-wrote the Husky record book — most notably in touchdown passes (33), completion percentage (66.9) and passing efficiency (161.09).
In fact, it was one of the best seasons in Pac-12 history, depending on the metric. To use one to give a sense of how efficient Price was, here’s a list of the top touchdown-passing seasons in conference history:
39 — Matt Barkley, USC, 2011
38 — Matt Leinart, USC, 2003
37 — Andrew Luck, Stanford, 2011
34 — Mark Sanchez, USC, 2008; Ryan Leaf, WSU, 1997; and Drew Olson, UCLA, 2005
33 — Keith Price, UW, 2011; Darron Thomas, Oregon, 2011; Matt Leinart, USC, 2004; Carson Palmer, USC, 2002.
It’s worth noting that passing numbers are up everywhere as the game has evolved the last few decades, and teams are also now playing more games with the advent of the 12-game regular season, bowl games and conference title games.
Still, in a season that began with everyone wondering whether he could adequately replace the graduated Jake Locker, you can see that Price last year threw as many (or just about) TD passes as did quarterbacks who had some of the most storied seasons in conference history — Leinart in 2004 and Palmer in 2002 won the Heisman and Luck and Leaf each finished in the top five.
And it’s worth keeping in mind how statistically impressive Price’s season was a year ago when some (such as Brock Huard, in the post below) say that they wouldn’t be surprised to see his numbers take a step back this season — it’d be pretty hard to do a lot better.
That’s especially true considering Price will be working without three of his top playmakers last season in receivers Jermaine Kearse and Devin Aguilar and running back Chris Polk, who combined to catch 17 of Price’s 33 TDs last season.
Price, though, will tell you he definitely thinks he can improve this season, having mentioned in the spring being more accurate and cutting down on his interceptions (11 in 362 attempts, which is hardly bad but higher than that of, say, Barkley, who threw seven in 466 attempts).
Maybe most important is figuring out how to stay healthy the entire season. As was well-documented, Price was rarely 100 percent in 2011, suffering a knee injury in the first half of the first game, and several other such injuries in later games.
Some of it was simply the hazards of playing quarterback. But UW coach Steve Sarkisian also wants Price to get rid of the ball more quickly when plays break down, becoming more willing to sometimes throw it away without contact and live to fight another down.
Price also spent the off-season working on getting bigger and stronger. He said he was 185 pounds when last season ended, but reported at Pac-12 Media Day a couple weeks ago that he was now close to 200.
And that doesn’t include the heavy weight now on his shoulders as the undisputed leader of the Huskies.
No. 2 — CB Desmond Trufant
No. 3 — TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins
No. 4 — DT Danny Shelton
No. 5 — DE Josh Shirley
No. 6 — WR Kasen Williams
No. 7 — SS Sean Parker
No. 8 — C Drew Schaefer
No. 9 — DE Hau’oli Jamora
No. 10 — FS Justin Glenn