Jake Locker’s departure means the first full quarterback competition in Washington camp in four years.
Last week here at Sportspress Northwest, we brokedown the different units that comprise the Washington football team, taking a look back and a look forward for the (gasp!) 7-6 Huskies of 2010. We wrap up with the quarterbacks.
What was thought prior to the season: Jake Locker would take another dramatic step forward and backup all the chatter about his skills that came in the preseason. The offense, and the passing component of it, were expected to be the strength of the team.
What we saw during the season: Locker finished the season with the assessment he started it with. Questions about his accuracy and ability to read defenses remain. Beliefs in his character, leadership, running ability and athleticism also remain. For more on Locker, you can read a Sportspress Northwest look at his legacy here. Backup Keith Price showed calm in the knee-knocking situations he was presented with. He threw a one-yard touchdown pass at USC when he replaced Locker for a play. He started at No. 1 Oregon. He also put in some mop-up duty. Price finished the year 19-for-37 for 164 yards.
What’s next for this group: A quarterback competition for the first time in four years. Price appears to be the front-runner ahead of redshirt freshman Nick Montana, based on experience and what was shown in practice this year. Washington head coach Steve Sarkisian has intimated the competition will be open. It also would not be a surprise if each received playing time next season.
“One is, hopefully we continue to excel at running the football where we don’t have to put as much pressure on the quarterback, especially early on,” Sarkisian said. “I’d like to think that defensively we can continue on the path we are on of playing the style of football where the quarterback doesn’t have to go out and win the games for us.
“But when it comes to practice time for us, when it comes to spring football and into fall camp we’ll make our practice environment as hostile an environment as we can on those two young guys to put them in some of the most difficult situations and see how they respond, and hopefully we make practice more difficult than games so that when the games do roll around they feel comfortable and feel as if they belong.”
There will be pains and groans with either.
Price is the better runner. He has spent two years working with quarterbacks coach Doug Nussmeier to refine his delivery. He also has two years in Sarkisian’s system.
It’s difficult to fairly assess Montana at this point since he spent the season running the scout team.
“They’ve got a real feel for the game,” Sarkisian said. “Football comes natural to them. Very high football IQs. So it’s going to be exciting to watch them as we prepare for spring practice, then lead into spring practice to watch them compete and get better and push each other.”
At the very least, it will make for the key storyline of spring and fall practice.