By Gregg Bell
UW Director of Writing
SEATTLE – Good thing Keith Price had already prepared himself to start this weekend.
Four days off from throwing did the Huskies’ starting quarterback wonders. Price “looked really good” in Steve Sarkisian’s estimation Thursday morning during a test in practice of his sore thumb, and the coach said “I’d be surprised if he didn’t play,” Saturday night against California.
Sarkisian said he had yet to study the film of the practice following Price’s first time throwing with the starting offense this week, to ensure he is making all the throws in the offense he needs to. But, the coach added, “just off of first glimpse, real time, I thought he looked really good.”
So all signs point to Price making his 34th career start Saturday when Washington (4-3, 1-3 Pa-12) and California (1-6, 0-4) meet beginning at 8 p.m. on homecoming night at Husky Stadium.
The fifth-year senior left last weekend’s loss at Arizona State with 12 minutes remaining to get X-rays on a thumb on his passing hand that he banged three weeks ago during the loss at Stanford. Those X-rays were negative. ASU sacked Price six times and hit him at least a dozen other time in Washington’s 53-24 loss.
He spent Sunday through Wednesday preparing redshirt freshman Cyler Miles to play against Cal just in case. He broke down defensive film with Miles, tutored him during practices – and drew praise from quarterbacks coach Marques Tuiasosopo for his selflessness and teamwork in working hard with his backup.
Asked how the four days of not throwing has helped heal his hand, Price smiled Wednesday and said, “It’s been amazing. I’ve been rehabbing relentlessly.”
It’s been a steady treatment schedule with heat, ice and electrical stimulation therapy that has gotten Price to this point of being ready for Cal.
Sarkisian said the days off did more than heal Price’s thumb.
“I think there’s some merit to that,” the coach said, “not just with his thumb but with his overall body — and even his mind, you know. To kind of clear his mind a little bit, to watch Cyler play … and come back energized.”
Price had said Wednesday "I’m preparing (to play). It depends on Coach Sark and how he feels. I’m preparing myself as if I’m starting."
He now looks as if he will. UW’s career leader in completion percentage (64.3) will be facing a young, injury-wrecked Cal defense that is ranked 121st among 123 teams in the Football Bowl Subdivision allowing 525.4 yards per game. The Golden Bears are ranked last in the country in pass defense, surrendering 346.7 yards per game through the air.
Was there any thought to hold Price out of Saturday knowing UW has a bye next week, to give the thumb two full weeks to heal?
"The thought’s to win the game," Sarkisian said, all too aware of his team’s three-game losing streak. "The thought’s to go win the game on Saturday."
INSIDE THE DAWGS: UW had as of Thursday morning distributed 63,500 tickets for Saturday’s game. That includes 1,198 visiting-team tickets sold. … Saturday’s forecast for game time calls for no rain, maybe some more of this fog in which the Huskies have practiced all week, and temperatures in the upper 40s. … UW has won 24 of the last 30 meetings with Cal, including all four since Sarkisian arrived to coach the Huskies in 2009. Under Sarkisian, the Dawgs are averaging 408 yards of offense per game against the Bears.