In the wake of the Apple Cup, one of the most-asked questions is whether there will be competition at the quarterback spot next year.
One thing to keep in mind is that there is always competition to an extent — backups always get a lot of reps (all got quite a few during training camp this year, if you recall, with UW coach Steve Sarkisian saying he felt it important to begin to get them some work). And when the backups get work, there is always that chance to make an impression.
What can shape the idea of whether there is really a competition is how the coaches talk about it publicly. It’s hard to know yet if Sarkisian will declare that there is an open competition and say that everyone has a shot at it.
One person who thinks that is what is going to happen, though, is former UW quarterback Brock Huard, who said during a segment on the Brock and Salk Show today on ESPN 710 Seattle that he “I think it’s going to be very competitive this spring” and that he “expects Sarkisian to say it’s an open competition.”
You can hear the segment below, and in it Huard also talks about some of the parallels of what he saw in Price this year to his last season at UW in 1998. A lot of it is the same ground Huard covered in this story he wrote for the station’s web site in April. Huard took some criticism for that story at the time, but now it looks startlingly prescient.
As happened with Price, the UW offense in Huard’s last year had massive changes up front. Huard also lost some of his best receivers (Jerome Pathn, Fred Coleman) and running back (Rashaan Shehee) and saw all of his numbers drop from 1997 to 1998 except interceptions — TDs went from 23 to 15, completion percentage from 59.9 to 55, etc.
Price saw a similar fall, TDs going from a school-record 33 to 18 and completion percentage from 66.9 to 61.8, to name two.
Huard left after his junior year for the NFL and was succeeded by Marques Tuiasosopo, who had started three games the previous two seasons due to injuries to Huard and had played in numerous others. There was also a coaching change, from Jim Lambright to Rick Neuheisel. So we’ll never know what might have happened had Huard stayed, if he would have had to beat out Tuiasosopo again or what.
Sarkisian has steadfastly defended Price so far — just recall his blunt response to the question after the Arizona game of whether he would consider playing a different QB, calling it “crazy.”
But the reality is that there also wasn’t much of an option this year with UW deciding to redshirt true frosh Cyler Miles (who was coming off of off-season hip surgery) and Jeff Lindquist, leaving only redshirt freshman Derrick Brown available of scholarship players.
All, though, will be available and off any redshirt status in the spring. Most around the program figure Miles to be the most legitimate threat to Price — Miles was listed as a co-backup with Brown all season behind Price while Lindquist generally worked with the scout team.
But things can change rapidly in college football and undoubtedly the Huskies will give chances to all three in the spring to see how each has progressed.
Interestingly, Huard concluded his talk on Price by saying that even if Sarkisian opens up the competition “my money would still be on Keith Price finishing that race first.”
Indeed, Price’s numbers indicate he wouldn’t give up the job without a fight — despite the struggles he had at times this season.
He has now thrown for 53 touchdown passes in his UW career, just two off the school record of 55 set by Cody Pickett.
And while this season wasn’t what last year was for Price, his completion percentage was still the fourth-best in school history — and that’s with what had to be at least 25 or so passes he simply tossed out of bounds to prevent a sack. And his passing efficiency rating of 124.4 this year is the sixth-best in school history.
It would be a rare situation for a quarterback who is already his school’s career leader in categories such as touchdowns — which Price could be if he throws three in the bowl game — to have to publicly fight to keep his job. But 2013 also looms as one of the most pivotal seasons in recent UW memory, as well. If nothing else, the Huskies figure to have a lot more options next season, leading to a lot more intrigue at the quarterback spot.
You can hear all that Huard had to say below (the Price discussion starts at about the four-minute mark):