Dec. 2, 2011
By Gregg Bell -UW Director of Writing
SEATTLE - What a great week for Keith Price.
Not because he added to his Huskies record of 29 touchdown passes in a season.
It’s because he did nothing.
“(This) week’s going to be great, because I get to rest up even more,” the banged-up redshirt sophomore said before Washington’s week off began on Sunday.
Price has had three different knee sprains, a sprained ankle, a sore, non-throwing shoulder and then a cramp in his throwing thumb, of all things, while he threw for three more touchdown passes in the 38-21 win over Washington State in the 104th Apple Cup last weekend.
So no wonder he has cherished not practicing from last Saturday’s finale to a 7-5 regular season through Friday. The Huskies return to the field Saturday for consecutive morning practices, then will find out Sunday afternoon where they are going and who they are playing in their second bowl game in as many Decembers.
“It’s been great for Keith to get his health back,” coach Steve Sarkisian said as his staff spread out on multiple recruiting trips this week. “That’s the most obvious benefit of this week.”
Sarkisian’s next practices following this weekend will be Dec. 9, 10 and 11. The Huskies then get three more days off before intensifying bowl preparations on campus beginning Dec. 15.
While nothing becomes official until Sunday, after the Bowl Championship Series is settled, we do know this: The Alamo Bowl gets the first choice of Pac-12 teams that do not make the BCS. The Holiday Bowl gets the second pick of the league’s non-BCS lot. Barring a UCLA upset of Oregon in Eugene in Friday night’s first conference championship game, the Ducks will be in the Rose Bowl. Stanford, ranked fourth in the latest BCS rankings, seems assured of a BCS at-large bid.
That plus USC still being on probation and ineligible for the postseason would mean for the second consecutive season, everyone in the conference would essentially move up two spots in the non-BCS bowl pecking order.
“Having been to only one bowl in I don’t know how many years, we will take whatever we can get,” Sarkisian said. “Our kids are excited to be going to a bowl. The newness is still there no matter where we go.”
Sarkisian noted the Alamo and Holiday Bowls each have prestige and a history of attractive matchups – both pit Pac-12 teams against ones from the Big 12. He also noted how each will be the only bowls on national television in its prime-time slot. The Holiday Bowl is Dec. 28, with the Alamo Bowl on the next night.
Sarkisian said in terms of recruiting, Washington is getting more national in its approach as it continues to grow from 0-12 in 2008 to 5-7 in his first season to 7-6 and now 7-5 since. So it’s not as if he prefers a return to San Diego because Southern California is such a key area for the Huskies’ recruiting.
“We’ve spread our wings into Texas now,” Sarkisian said.
In the meantime, the Huskies won’t be spreading themselves too thin in practices. Sarkisian said these next two weekends will largely be devoted to working younger players who haven’t played in many games. Then he will devote the sixth through 10th practices in Seattle to game planning.
The final five practices of Sarkisian’s bowl-prep plan will be at the game site in the days leading up to the bowl and will follow a regular game-week schedule.
It’s a formula he’s been using successfully since he was an offensive coordinator winning Rose Bowls at USC years ago. And it worked wonders against Nebraska in the Holiday Bowl last December.