Keith Price nodded in agreement and flashed that old, familiar smile.
Yes, Price acknowledged, he felt as good as ever in leading Washington to a statement-making 38-6 victory over No. 19 Boise State at new Husky Stadium on Saturday night. The senior quarterback did it in an old, familiar style, flashing a laser-strike arm and catch-me-if-you-can legs in what was, under the circumstances, his best performance since the 2011 Alamo Bowl.
“I saw that same look in his eye (from 2011),” UW receiver Kasen Williams said of the quarterback.
Price agreed, but quickly deflected credit to a rebuilt offensive line that allowed only one sack Saturday.
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“I feel like we got in a good rhythm and I felt like the offensive line stepped up tremendously,” Price said. “I kept going back to them and telling them, ‘Man, I’m back there and I’m sitting clean.’ It’s just good to get out to a good start.”
Price overcame a first-throw interception to finish 23 of 31 for 324 yards, with touchdown passes to Williams and tight end Josh Perkins to give him 56 career TD passes, the most ever for a UW quarterback.
While operating UW’s new no-huddle attack, Price had a quarterback rating of 176.8 Saturday. By comparison, his 2011 rating of 161.9 was the seventh-best in the nation that season; and his 2012 rating dipped to 122.4.
The touchdown throw to Perkins was particularly revealing: Price was able to scramble far to his left to elude a blitzing linebacker, square his shoulders and throw a precise pass off his right foot to find the streaking tight end in the back of the end zone.
“He played like a point guard tonight,” UW coach Steve Sarkisian said after the game, “and in this system I thought he was shooting the ball really well.”
Price was credited with six rushes for 25 yards (including a 7-yard loss on the sack). He had a net gain of minus-34 yards in 13 games last season, when he was sacked 37 times.
Knee and ankle injuries had limited Price’s mobility at times in the past two seasons; Saturday night, he looked healthy and happy.
“My lower body’s stronger … (and able) to withstand all those hits that I’ve been taking over the past couple years,” he said.
Price connected with seven receivers against Boise State. Sophomore Jaydon Mickens hauled in several quick strikes and bubble screens to finish with nine catches for a career-best 109 yards. Price hit a diving Kevin Smith for a 42-yard gain, and the quarterback just overthrew freshman John Ross on another deep pass in the end zone early.
“Going in, we knew our perimeter guys were better than theirs,” Williams said.
The Huskies figure to join The Associated Press Top 25 when the poll is released Tuesday. They have a bye this week before heading to Chicago to play Illinois (1-0) at Soldier Field on Sept. 14.
And while happy to flash a familiar look, Price also said he wasn’t getting too far ahead of himself.
“I know I have a lot to correct out of this game,” he said. “One game doesn’t define us. We know we have a long way to go, and it’s a long season.”
Adam Jude: 206-464-2364 or firstname.lastname@example.org.