BY SPNW Staff 11:48AM 10/19/2011

Price Needs Major Win To Enter Heisman Chat

To back up his big numbers, Huskies QB needs a high(sman)-profile win , such as, oh, maybe No. 7 Stanford in Palo Alto Saturday.

Washington quarterback Keith Price has been responsible 21 points per game, the highest single-game average in Huskies football history. / Drew Sellers, Sportspress Northwest

Lots of gab locally this week about the possible Heisman candidacy of University of Washington quarterback Keith Price. The talk accelerated after Price tossed four more touchdown passes in Saturday’s 52-24 wipeout of Colorado at Husky Stadium, but it realistically doesn’t amount to much at this point, and won’t until Price wins what Art Thiel of Sportspress Northwest describes as an “elevator” game.

An “elevator” win is one in which Price excels stylistically and statistically in leading Washington to a victory over a high-profile opponent, preferably on TV, thereby elevating his national profile. For all of his superb work through six games, Price has yet to do that. Which is to say, beating Eastern Washington, Utah and Colorado isn’t going to garner the attention of Heisman voters.

But beating No. 7 Stanford Saturday would constitute an elevator win, and that’s how Price’s Heisman candidacy would realistically gain traction. But if the Huskies lose to Stanford — oddsmakers have established the Cardinal as 20-point favorites — Price would have only one, and perhaps two, elevator games remaining, against No. 9 Oregon Nov. 5 and at USC Nov. 12.

The rest of Washington’s schedule — vs. Arizona Oct. 29, at Oregon State Nov. 19, vs. Washington State (at CenturyLink Field) Nov. 26 — amounts to blah in a Heisman context.

In a Husky context, Price’s performance is unprecedented. With 21 touchdown passes through six games, Price is on a pace — which he can’t possibly sustain, can he? — to throw a boggling 42. The UW single-season record is 28, by Cody Pickett in 2002, which now suddenly looks puny.

A few weeks ago, when Price was little more than a rumor to most Seattle sports fans, we took stock of several record-book assaults then being conducted by the sophomore quarterback. Where Price stands now:

– With 21 touchdown passes (Price is one of six UW quarterbacks with more than 20 TD passes in a season), he needs eight in Washington’s final six games to break Pickett’s single-season record. Pickett had 13 TD passes through six en route to 28 (Price also needs five TD throws to break Brock Huard’s single-season record by a sophomore, 25).

– Price is completing .694 percent of his passes. Steve Pelluer set the school single-season record of .650 in 1983, the year that he was named Pac-10 Offensive Player of the Year.

– Sporting a 177.9 passer efficiency rating, Price remains well ahead of the school record, Brock Huard’s 153.8, set in 1997.

Caveat: Pass efficiency does not measure a quarterback’s overall ability, which includes leadership, huddle and clock management, play calling (Steve Sarkisian calls UW plays) and a host of other of skills. But pass efficiency does measure a quarterback’s throwing effectiveness, and Price stands way ahead of every other passer in school history. Example: When Billy Joe Hobert quarterbacked the Huskies to the co-national championship in 1991, his passer rating was 142.0.

Price has been responsible for 121 points this season, the result of his 21 touchdown passes. That works out to 21.0 points per game (among all FBS passers, only Baylor’s Robert Griffin, at 24.0, has a higher production rate.) The UW single-season record is 14.8, by Mark Brunell in 1990. Most points responsible for per game in a season, with Price shown for comparison purposes:

Year Player Pos. Gms. Total Avg. Skinny
2011 Keith Price QB 6 121 21.0 Next at Stanford vs. Luck
1990 Mark Brunell QB 12 178 14.8 Led UW to 10-2 record
1991 Billy Joe Hobert QB 12 174 14.5 QB’d perfect 12-0 season
2002 Cody Pickett QB 13 186 14.3 Generated 504 career points
2009 Jake Locker QB 12 170 14.2 Generated 496 career points
1997 Brock Huard QB 11 148 13.5 Personal-best 25 TD passes
2007 Jake Locker QB 12 162 13.5 Best at UW by a freshman
1951 H. McElhenny RB 10 125 12.5 1952 1st-round NFL pick
1996 Corey Dillon RB 12 150 12.5 25 TDs in lone season at UW
1986 Chris Chandler QB 12 144 12 Led UW to ’86 Sun Bowl
1991 Mario Bailey WR 12 108 9 Had 18 TD catches

Price has thrown four touchdown passes in a game three times, vs. Hawaii, at Nebraska and vs. Colorado. He is the first quarterback in Washington history to have a trio of four-TD games in a single season (several former UW quarterbacks had two, most recently Locker in 2010).

Of all the remarkable numbers Price has produced, we like this one the best: 12.35 percent of his 122 throws have resulted in touchdowns (3 vs. Eastern Washington, 4 vs. Hawaii, 4 at Nebraska, 3 vs. California, 3 at Utah, 4 vs. Colorado). The top single-season mark in school history is 9.12 percent by Brock Huard in 1997. The best percentage after that: 7.52 by Hobert in 1991.

No one could have imagined that Locker’s replacement would convert 12.35 percent of his passes into touchdowns, especially when the icon that wore No. 10 converted just 4.91 percent of his career throws into scores.

Highest touchdown percentage in a single season (Price again included for comparison purposes):

Year Player TD Pct. Skinny
2011 Keith Price 12.35% 21 TD passes among his 170 throws
1997 Brock Huard 9.12% 25 touchdowns in 274 attempts
1991 Billy Joe Hobert 7.52% 24 touchdowns in his 319 attempts
1973 Chris Rowland 6.41% 5 of 15 TD passes came against Cal
1950 Don Heinrich 6.33% Made 221 throws, tallied 14 touchdowns
1986 Chris Chandler 6.29% 20 touchdowns in 318 pass attempts

And in case you are wondering, Stanford’s Andrew Luck, the Heisman favorite and almost certain to become the No. 1 overall pick in next spring’s NFL Draft, has a touchdown percentage of 9.94 through six games.


YourThoughts

  • marcelsees

    Gee, Price is so down-to-earth and unimposing, it’s still difficult for me to take him seriously.  Maybe all that’s to his advantage?  He’s definitely not your prototypical NFL quarterback at this stage of his career.  But, if he could run freely, without the injuries, perhaps Price could take this Husky offense to a really scary place.  He’s passed all the leadership challenges thus far. He’s clearly a tough and resilient individual.  His teammates believe in him.  Understood, he’s decidedly a work in progress, but for all his accomplishments, I’ve yet to see him will the Huskies forward under withering circumstances.  He’s yet to prove his command capabilities if we’re talking Heisman qualities.  It will be interesting to watch Prices’ response to a higher level of competition as the Huskies approach the most daunting part of their schedule.  I fear the Heisman sentiments are at least a year premature.  Let’s enjoy the ride.

  • marcelsees

    Gee, Price is so down-to-earth and unimposing, it’s still difficult for me to take him seriously.  Maybe all that’s to his advantage?  He’s definitely not your prototypical NFL quarterback at this stage of his career.  But, if he could run freely, without the injuries, perhaps Price could take this Husky offense to a really scary place.  He’s passed all the leadership challenges thus far. He’s clearly a tough and resilient individual.  His teammates believe in him.  Understood, he’s decidedly a work in progress, but for all his accomplishments, I’ve yet to see him will the Huskies forward under withering circumstances.  He’s yet to prove his command capabilities if we’re talking Heisman qualities.  It will be interesting to watch Prices’ response to a higher level of competition as the Huskies approach the most daunting part of their schedule.  I fear the Heisman sentiments are at least a year premature.  Let’s enjoy the ride.

  • cruddly

    Raise your hand if you think the Heisman is the most biased, overrated and inconsequential trophy awarded in college football.  The whole process reminds me of the academy awards where the  studios actively campaign behind the scenes and in the press for their own movies and artists to win Oscars.   With the Heisman, it’s the universities that get down and dirty, campaigning for their star athletes.  Remember how silly the UW looked last year, promoting a not ready for prime time Jake Locker?  
    Do we really want the Husky Athletic Department getting involved in that tacky mess again?  Please, just ignore the ‘hype man trophy’ and let Price do his thing unfettered.

  • cruddly

    Raise your hand if you think the Heisman is the most biased, overrated and inconsequential trophy awarded in college football.  The whole process reminds me of the academy awards where the  studios actively campaign behind the scenes and in the press for their own movies and artists to win Oscars.   With the Heisman, it’s the universities that get down and dirty, campaigning for their star athletes.  Remember how silly the UW looked last year, promoting a not ready for prime time Jake Locker?  
    Do we really want the Husky Athletic Department getting involved in that tacky mess again?  Please, just ignore the ‘hype man trophy’ and let Price do his thing unfettered.