TUCSON, Ariz. — Washington coach Steve Sarkisian had been concerned about Keith Price’s drop-off from his breakout 2011 season.
After a befuddling loss to Arizona, he’s now worried about his quarterback’s state of mind.
Facing constant pressure against Arizona’s aggressive defense, Price didn’t have much of a response, throwing two interceptions and numerous passes out of bounds in Washington’s 52-17 loss to the Wildcats Saturday night.
“I’ll have to look at the film from a fundamental standpoint, but I know from watching him off the field and on game days, I didn’t like what I saw from him tonight,” Sarkisian said. “It seemed like he had some doubt in his mind.”
The Huskies (3-4, 1-3 Pac-12) had no chance against Arizona’s fast-paced offense, allowing Arizona to score on its first five possessions and score 31 points in the first half.
The biggest concern was another so-so game by Price.
He had a superb sophomore season, setting school records for touchdown passes, completion percentage and pass efficiency.
With the Huskies beset by injuries, Price hasn’t been nearly as productive, averaging 180 yards per game with seven touchdowns and six interceptions through the first six games.
Against Arizona, Price matched Arizona’s Matt Scott with 256 yards passing, but his line didn’t look quite as good, needing 52 attempts to get there and with two interceptions to offset his one touchdown. He also was sacked four times and had to throw the ball away under pressure numerous other times, leading to Washington’s third straight loss.
“I’m extremely disappointed,” Sarkisian said. “I envisioned a much different outcome, that’s for sure.”
The Wildcats got just what they wanted after a much-needed bye week.
Arizona (4-3, 1-3) went into its bye worn down and beaten up after three straight losses to ranked opponents.
Refreshed and mostly recuperated, the Wildcats had their way with Washington’s defense from the opening drive, eclipsing 500 total yards (533) for the sixth time this season.
Scott threw for 256 yards and four touchdowns — two to Austin Hill — and ran for another score. Ka’Deem Carey ran for 172 yards and a touchdown, and Richard Morrison added a 63-yard touchdown on a punt return to give coach Rich Rodriguez his first Pac-12 win.
“We gave great effort in all three phases for all four quarters and that’s the first time we’ve done that all year,” Rodriguez said. “We played really hard and put it all together.”
Scott set Pac-12 records for completions (45) and attempts (69) while throwing for 491 yards and three touchdowns in Arizona’s 54-48 loss to Stanford two weeks ago.
The fifth-year senior didn’t have to work quite as hard against Washington.
He opened by getting two Washington defenders to bite on a pump fake to set up a floating, 27-yard touchdown pass to David Richards.
Scott did it next with his legs, scoring on a 1-yard run, then his arm, finding Garic Wharton on a 33-yard touchdown pass on fourth-and-3 to put Arizona up 24-3. He also had a quick answer to Washington’s first touchdown — a 6-yard pass from Price to Austin Seferian-Jenkins — by hitting Hill on a 53-yard touchdown.
Scott’s only real mistake came in the closing seconds of the first half, when he was hit, and his fluttering pass was picked off by Washington linebacker Travis Feeney at midfield. He rumbled to the 3-yard line, setting up Bishop Sankey’s 1-yard touchdown run that cut Arizona’s lead to 31-17 at halftime.
The miscue did little to slow the Wildcats down.
Arizona gained about 10 yards when the teams traded fumbles near midfield, and Hill followed with his second touchdown catch, sending Washington’s Sean Parker to the turf with a wicked stiff-arm on his way to a 17-yard touchdown.
Morrison followed with his punt return touchdown, and Carey opened the fourth quarter with his touchdown run to put Arizona up 52-17 and send the Huskies home with an ugly loss.
“You come out here to Arizona and its 52-17, it’s going to be tough,” Seferian-Jenkins said.
And it doesn’t get any easier: Up next is No. 8 Oregon State.