By Christian Caple The News Tribune
SEATTLE — Now, the Washington Huskies wait.
They’re waiting on Keith Price, and his shoulder, and UW coach Steve Sarkisian, and the Huskies medical staff, all of which will have a say in whether Price, the Huskies’ fifth-year senior quarterback, will be able to play Saturday at Oregon State.
Price threw the ball during Thursday’s practice for the first time this week, Sarkisian said, and looked better than expected while doing it — “vastly improved,” to use the coach’s terminology. Price’s right throwing shoulder, injured in last Friday’s game at UCLA, hadn’t been tested all week.
Judging by Sarkisian’s assessment — reporters aren’t allowed to watch practice — it sounds as if Price’s comfort and pain tolerance will be primary factors in determining whether he plays.
“I’m going to really monitor how it feels for him (Friday) and how it can potentially improve up until Saturday, Saturday night for the game,” Sarkisian said. “But I was … I don’t want to say I was pleasantly surprised, but I was encouraged that he was able to go out and throw the ball the way he did.”
Sarkisian has spoken at length this season about the “battles” he’s waged together with Price as his quarterback. Coach and player obviously have a strong relationship. But Sarkisian said emotion won’t play a part in his decision between Price and backup Cyler Miles, who has prepared all week as if he will make his first career start.
Sarkisian said he likely will inform the players of his decision on Friday.
“I think I’m really objective with it,” Sarkisian said. “What I want to make a decision on is what’s best for our football team to give us the best opportunity to go out and play well and execute and win the game. Keith has done a lot of great things here. Cyler’s going to do a lot of great things here, and whoever takes the field Saturday night ultimately is going to be who gives us the best chance to be successful.”
He also didn’t rule out the possibility that Miles could start the game with Price available in a backup role, similar to the last time UW visited Corvallis in 2011.
Price, who was sidelined then by knee and ankle injuries, watched as Nick Montana made his first career start. But Price went into the game in the fourth quarter with the Huskies trailing and desperate for a spark. He immediately led a touchdown drive and was driving the team down the field again when he threw an interception in the end zone. UW eventually lost, 38-21.
“It’s all on the table,” Sarkisian said of how Price might be used Saturday.
Reprimand for Sarkisian
The Pacific-12 Conference announced Thursday that Sarkisian has been reprimanded for “public comments he made about officiating,” including the disclosure of “private communications” between UW and the conference office.
Sarkisian said during an early-Monday radio appearance on Sports Radio KJR that he was notified by the Pac-12 of an officiating error that cost the Huskies a touchdown during last Friday’s loss at UCLA. He later addressed the call in more depth during his weekly Monday press conference.
Price completed a 38-yard touchdown to Damore’ea Stringfellow in the first half of that game, but the score was nullified after offensive lineman Dexter Charles was issued a hands-to-the-face penalty.
Replays showed the penalty shouldn’t have been called, and, Sarkisian said, the Pac-12 admitted as much. He apparently was not supposed to disclose that fact.
“We get a lot of penalties, and probably the majority of those, deservedly so,” Sarkisian said Monday. “When you get one that isn’t, and is obviously very clear to see that it’s not a penalty, and not only is it not a penalty, it takes seven points off the board for you in a critical ballgame, it’s hard. But the reality is that one play is not the reason why we lost the game.”