The classic saying goes something like “keep your expectations low and you’ll never fall short.” Husky fans didn’t abide by the phrase last season and saw their quarterback fall far short of his lofty expectations.
Keith Price had one of the best seasons a Husky quarterback has ever had in 2011. It was his first season starting and nothing much was expected of him. Nobody thought he’d exceed his predecessor’s best season in his first. Especially since his predecessor was Jake Locker.
Not only did Price see himself in Heisman discussions by season’s end, he had led his team further than Locker ever did. His 33 touchdown passes and more than 3,000 yards passing led the Huskies to the Alamo Bowl, where they played one of the more memorable bowl games – even though it ended in a loss.
That led to Husky fans seeing roses before the next season had even kicked off. Now, a year later, expectations are much more mild.
Price followed up his sensational sophomore season with a disappointing junior season, throwing two more interceptions and 14 fewer touchdowns. Despite more talent around him, Price’s down year contributed to the Huskies repeating their seven-win campaign, including another bowl loss.
Price says his performance was a product of a lack of trust in himself and his teammates. All his trust issues are gone now, and he says he is ready to play like 2011 again.
If this is the case, the Huskies are primed to contend for a Pac-12 title – even with two top-10 teams in their division. Remember, Austin Seferian-Jenkins and Kasen Williams were both freshmen the last time Price was an elite quarterback. Now, imagine 2011 Price throwing passes to 2013 ASJ and Williams. Surround those three with a top-three running back in the Pac-12, an offensive line that returns eight one-time starters and three four-star freshmen receivers. It almost makes you wonder how they could have been voted fourth in the North in the preseason Pac-12 media poll.
There’s a simple answer to that. Price, once again, will have to prove himself. Like when he was a sophomore, nobody thinks much of Price. The only difference is that we know he can be elite now; that came out of nowhere in 2011. Knowing he needs to prove himself this season in order to continue playing football and go down in Husky lore, there should be no questioning his motivation.
The Huskies 2013 season is contingent on Keith Price returning to his 2011 form. If he continues a downward spiral or doesn’t improve, Steve Sarkisian will be on the hot seat and Price will be remembered similarly to Locker; a guy who had one good season but couldn’t bring the program to prominence.
If the Price from 2011 walks onto the new Husky Stadium turf on August 31, the Huskies will be able to hang with anyone in the conference. Don’t expect greatness from Price, but don’t be shocked if you do.