SAN FRANCISCO – As quarterback Keith Price prepares to play his final game for Washington, he’s not planning to wear a cape to his graduation Friday night in the Fight Hunger Bowl against Brigham Young. He’s tried that before and, frankly, he hates the look.
“I tried to be Superman,” Price said of his final pass in the Las Vegas Bowl last year, which was intercepted by Boise State’s Jeremy Ioane to seal the Broncos’ 28-26 victory.
“I truly believe we were going to win it if I hadn’t thrown the interception,” Price said Monday at a news conference at AT&T Park, site of the game Friday. “That was just me trying to be a superhero. I’ve learned from my mistake.”
The numbers certainly support that claim. One season after throwing 13 interceptions, Price has had just five in 11 games this season.
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As it turns out, the No. 13 last season wasn’t all that unlucky after all.
“That play summed up my season as a whole — inconsistent,” said Price, who had driven the Huskies into Boise State territory in the final minute with three short passes before getting a bit impatient on his final attempt.
“I tried to do too much. I learned you have to trust your teammates. You have to trust the play calls.”
Price calls the mishap the biggest driving force in a season in which he earned All-Pac-12 honorable mention honors after throwing for 2,843 yards. He credits the team’s weight room in aiding his bounce-back effort.
“In the weight room, there were two pictures of the scoreboard from the last two games of the year,” said Price, noting his key interception late in the defeat against Washington State as well. “I looked at those pictures every day. Nobody wanted that to happen again. I told myself I wasn’t going to turn the ball over this year.”
Marques Tuiasosopo, the Huskies’ acting head coach for the bowl game, was Price’s position coach all season until getting his temporary promotion earlier this month. He’s impressed with the fifth-year senior’s transition.
“I love the kid,” Tuiasosopo gushed Monday. “Coming back after last year, with all the negative feedback from outside the program, that was impressive.
“He’s tough. He’s resilient. He keeps coming back. He’s become a much better manager of the game. He’s learned to protect the ball.”
One thing Price hasn’t done is win a bowl game. He’s started the past two — a 67-56 defeat against Baylor in the Alamo Bowl in 2011 before the setback last year against Boise State — and hopes the third time is the charm.
“The guys are excited. I’m going to try not to get too excited,” he said. “With all the highs and all the lows I’ve been through … hopefully we’re going to come away with a victory.”
Even a triumph might not change something about Price’s career with the Huskies — his No. 1 highlight. It remains the touchdown pass he threw against USC as a freshman, his first as a Husky in front of family and friends in his hometown area of Los Angeles.
Perhaps fittingly, his final game as a Husky will be played under somewhat similar circumstances. San Francisco is 400 miles north of Los Angeles, but that’s not stopping 15 family members and friends from making the trek for the game Friday.
“I had to start asking for tickets early,” Price said. “I’ve learned over the years you have to get your bids in early.”