After a 2012 season that tested Price's confidence, he insists he's put that baggage behind him as Washington's spring practices begin.
The right knee brace Keith Price has worn for so long was gone when the Washington Huskies began spring football practice Tuesday night.
“It feels good,” said Price, who spent the past few months working on strengthening his often-troublesome legs. “I can actually pick my knee up.”
Also gone, he said, is any baggage from a 2012 season that began with Price on the periphery of the Heisman Trophy conversation and ended with some wondering if his job was in jeopardy.
After Tuesday’s practice, Price said he’s turned the page.
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“(Last season) was painful emotionally, physically and trying to carry the team when I didn’t really need to,” he said. “Trust has to be the biggest thing for me, and I can feel the difference between this year and last year. I trust my guys and I know everybody is going to be in the right place, and it’s easier for me.”
That trust wavered at times in 2012 as Price worked behind an injury-ravaged offensive line and with a young, rebuilt receiving corps. After throwing a school-record 33 touchdowns and 11 interceptions in 2011, he had 19 touchdowns and 13 interceptions in 2012.
But with just about every significant player on the offense back this year, so is Price’s confidence.
“He’s still got that swagger about him,” said tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins. “One year isn’t going to affect who he is as a player.”
UW coach Steve Sarkisian offered a similar vote of confidence for Price earlier in the week. While saying that the other quarterbacks on the roster will be given every chance to show their ability, he reiterated that “Keith Price is our starting quarterback.”
Still, radio talk shows and Internet chat rooms figure to bustle with talk of competition at quarterback given UW’s offensive struggles in 2012 and the presence of four other scholarship QBs on the roster, three of whom were consensus four-star recruits (redshirt freshman Cyler Miles, Jeff Lindquist and Troy Williams. Also on the roster is sophomore Derrick Brown, last year’s backup).
Price, however, said he’s not worried about competition.
“I’m focused on myself,” he said. “I know I am going to prepare myself, and that’s all I can do.”
Part of that preparation includes a revamped offseason weightlifting program. Last year, after Price battled a string of leg injuries in the 2011 season, the Huskies put some limits on his workout regimen to ensure that Price stayed healthy.
Price said he’s put on a little weight and is now up to 206 pounds (he was listed at 202 last season).
He said the extra lower-body strength will help with his mobility, which will be more even more important this season as the Huskies tinker with more of a no-huddle, up-tempo offense.
Sarkisian, while cautioning that it was just one no-pads practice, said he noticed a difference in Price’s ability to move Tuesday night.
“A couple of times he was able to pull it and really run and show some explosiveness,” Sarkisian said. “… In this offense it’s good to have a quarterback who can show some explosiveness and move. And he’s at his best when he’s playing that way, as well.”
Also helping Price get back to his comfort zone is the presence of new quarterbacks coach Marques Tuiasosopo, who is well-versed in the no-huddle offense after spending last season at UCLA helping the Bruins implement their own version.
“All the things he did at UCLA and just learning how the no-huddle offense works,” Price said. “It’s perfect.”
|Husky QB Keith Price’s numbers as a sophomore and junior:|
|Yards per att.||8.5||6.3|