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Montana era to begin Saturday for UW?

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By Scott M. Johnson
Herald Writer
SEATTLE — Keith Price apparently kicked a plastic garbage can in frustration when he was taken out early in the second half of Saturday’s loss against USC.
It looks like the University of Washington quarterback might have to stew in his frustration for another week.
UW coach Steve Sarkisian said Monday that an injury to Price’s left knee might keep the starting quarterback out of Saturday’s game at Oregon State. If that’s the case, the Huskies might be looking at the debut of a new starter with a well-known surname.
“We’ll prepare ourselves for Nick Montana to make his first start Saturday,” Sarkisian said Monday. “And if things change, then things change. But I think you have to prepare for that so that we don’t get caught off guard, come late in the week, (if) Keith is not able to play.”
As of Monday, Price had extensive swelling on his knee and was scheduled to undergo an MRI on the knee. Sarkisian told reporters after a practice late Monday afternoon that results of the MRI would be made public sometime today.
In the meantime, Montana was in working with the first unit at practice, and for now the Huskies are moving forward as if he’ll be the starter.
“I feel great about Nick Montana because I have some experience with him now,” Sarkisian said. “I understand what his demeanor is like on game day more so than the beginning of the season.”
Price, who has struggled with injuries throughout the season, twisted his knee while getting sacked by multiple defenders on his final play of the USC game. Montana replaced him and completed 9 of 15 passes, including his first collegiate touchdown on a 20-yard throw to Kasen Williams in the final seconds of a 40-17 loss.
Sarkisian said there was still significant swelling in Price’s knee as of Monday afternoon, giving him greater concern about the possibility of the starter sitting out a game for the first time this season.
“We don’t think it’s significant from a long-term standpoint,” Sarkisian said, “but we want to make sure of that, and then we need to monitor the swelling in the knee. It’s a lot more swollen than it has been (in past injuries), so we have to monitor that.’’
In Montana, the Huskies have a raw young quarterback with well-known bloodlines. The son of Hall of Famer Joe Montana has played in four games this season, with all but one of his snaps coming well after the outcome had already been decided.
The redshirt freshman has played in three of the past four games, mostly in mop-up duty, while completing 11 of 18 passes for 137 yards.
“Nick has gotten better — every opportunity he’s gone in, he’s gotten better,” Sarkisian said of Montana. “I thought he did some nice things there late in the game against SC, as he got into the flow of the game. To Nick’s credit I think the last month, the last three weeks really have been his best days of practice.”
This could mark the second year in a row that the Huskies make a road trip to the state of Oregon without the services of their starting quarterback. Price made his first start of his career at the University of Oregon last November, completing 14 of 28 passes for 127 yards in a blowout loss while Jake Locker nursed a broken rib.
Price came into 2011 without many expectations but soon became one of the brightest young stars of the early college football season. He at one time led the nation in touchdown passes and ranked as high as fifth in the country in passer efficiency rating, but Price’s play has leveled off in recent weeks.
Offensive line struggles played a part in 13 sacks over the past two games, including 10 on Price. After throwing at least three touchdown passes in each of UW’s first six games, Price has thrown a total of just four in the past four games. He finally succumbed to the knee injury with 10:47 remaining in the third quarter of Saturday’s blowout loss.
And come Saturday, it might be time for him to watch from the sideline as the Montana show gets underway.
“He’s really improved, and I’ve been proud of him,” Sarkisian said of his redshirt freshman from Orange County in Southern California. “He did a nice job Saturday against SC. And if he has to play Saturday against Oregon State, I would expect him to play well.”
Sarkisian would not say who will serve as the primary backup should Price sit out Saturday’s game. Walk-on Thomas Vincent and true freshman Derrick Brown have worked as scout-team quarterbacks this season and are the most likely options. The Huskies hope to redshirt Brown, and putting him into a game at this point would take away a year of eligibility by making him a sophomore next fall. ... Linebacker Garret Gilliland (neck stinger) could be in danger of missing Saturday’s game at Oregon State. The Huskies hope to have wide receiver James Johnson (ankle) back for the game.
Story tags » Huskies Football

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