Season Grades: Quarterback

Keith Price (Kim Grinolds/Dawgman.com)

Now that the Washington Huskies have completed their 2012 regular season, it's time to go back and look at the pluses and minuses and assign grades. As the old saying goes, the quarterbacks probably get more praise and blame than they deserve, but like it or not they are a big focal point of any team. And Keith Price certainly had the spotlight on him all year long.

The Good - First, Keith was able to play every game, and although he had to suffer through the dings that every player has to go through over the course of a season he played every meaningful down. And that was big not only for the team, but for him as he heads into the most important off-season of his UW career. He doesn't have to focus on rehabilitation or wondering if his knees and ankles can make it anymore; they did. Now he can really build himself up physically for 2013, because he'll need to be at his absolute best - because he'll need to be with four scholarship quarterbacks breathing down his neck. Price can go back through the entirety of 2012 and take solace in the fact that he fought his way through a difficult time and came out (hopefully) a much tougher player because of it. He had to live through an offensive line turnover that could have really put a damper on Washington's offensive hopes, and during the season you could see that it was taking a toll on Price's psyche. But he had the character to push through and do his part to help UW to a four-game winning streak. He also had the character to drive the Huskies to a potentially game-winning field goal in the Apple Cup after fumbling away one touchdown earlier in the fourth quarter. His ability to bounce-back has been documented, so UW fans should feel good with the thought that Price has seen it all now - so he should be unflappable in 2013.

The Bad - The perception exists that Price just had a much, much better year as a sophomore than he did this fall, but the statistics tell a slightly different tale. After this year's regular season Price accounted for 2486 passing yards, while he was at 2625 at this same point last year. That's not a massive decrease. The two areas where Price really struggled was finding the end zone (29 TD's in 2011 to 18 TD's in 2012) and holding onto the football. While he threw for the same number of interceptions in 30 more throws this season, it was his issues holding onto the ball that really became an issue. Price had six fumbles recovered by the other team in 2012, with five of them coming in the second half, including two fourth quarter giveaways against USC and one in last Saturday's Apple Cup that led to a Washington State touchdown.

The ugly - With all the early season offensive line woes, it became clear that Price suffered from trust issues when it came to knowing not only where the OL would be for protection, but also where his receivers would be when he would invariably be flushed from the pocket and he'd have to improvise. For a while, it became a running joke that Price's most effective play-call was 'Scramble Right Dump', where Keith would toss it into Row Z the moment he had to roll out to his right and look downfield for help. UW Head Coach Steve Sarkisian reminded everyone on multiple occasions how it took courage to throw the ball away and live another down than try and force the issue with throws against the grain. By that measure, Price was one of the most courageous quarterbacks in college football, and frankly it's amazing that he was able to stay above a 60 percent completion percentage because he was throwing 3-4 passes away on scrambles alone. Price was much, much better when able to step up and through the pocket with his head up, scanning downfield for open receivers. He needs to get back to the point where he can offer up a semblance of a run threat to go with his escapability. Price will never be a runner (he's minus-7 in three years rushing at UW), but he can turn 'Scramble Right Dump' into a three-yard slide for positive yardage without too much trouble if he's always thinking about going forward instead of backward and to the side.

The Grade - C. By the end of the Arizona game, Price was looking a failing grade straight in the face - that's how bad it had been for a player who was expected to improve from a very impressive sophomore campaign. But in some ways Price has been his own worst enemy by having poor ball security and an inability to make much happen when plays broke down. Because he set the bar so high after out-peforming Robert Griffin III in the 2011 Alamo Bowl, Price put too much on his own shoulders to compensate for the loss of Chris Polk, Jermaine Kearse and Devin Aguilar - and he clearly suffered as a result. The revolving door at offensive line simply exacerbated issues. Once that stabilized and Price was able to trust his skill players to help supplement his own talent, that's when he settled in and started to perform. His character pushed him through and his character and leadership will push the Washington offense during the off-season and into 2013 with a renewed sense of belief and confidence - but there were too many highs and lows for a player whose veteran presence was supposed to produce a lot more than average results.

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