- Kevin Gemmell, ESPN Staff Writer
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The hopes are high for the Washington Huskies and their quarterback, Keith Price, who had his share of struggles in 2012. But the always-smiling player has a positive attitude heading into this fall, and he took a few minutes to chat with the Pac-12 blog about his expectations, blocking out the negatives of last season, and what he has to do to return to his 2011 form.
What are your thoughts on the new up-tempo offense?
Keith Price: I think it fits our players. It's very up-tempo. We dumbed-down the terminology from our previous system and I think the younger guys have really caught on. You can see they are starting to mature. I think it's going to be a lot of fun.
You took a lot of flak last year -- maybe unfairly, when you consider how injured your offensive line was (note: Price is audibly laughing at this point). How much of that did you have to shoulder simply because that comes with being a quarterback?
KP: I don't mind it. I don't mind it. Obviously, you want to do better. But you learn a lot, man. That comes with the position. I set a certain standard for myself. I have to perform at a high level no matter what is going on around me. I don't mind the expectations. But I know we have a lot of guys around me this year who are healthy and who are better and who are more mature. If I do perform like I did the year before last, it's going to be because of the guys around me.
What do you do to keep that negativity from creeping into your brain? You are known for your smile and positive attitude. How do you not let it get to you?
KP: It's easy. I just don't read anything and I don't listen to anything. I've always been the same guy through the success and through the failure. I've never changed the way I work. I know how good I am and I know what the expectations are for me. I know I'm expected to play at a high level. So don't worry. I'm going to be back to my old self and this is going to be a great season.
At the same time, you do have to take some of the responsibility. It wasn't your best year. What needs to happen for you to get back to that 2011 form?
KP: To be honest, just staying within the system. Not trying to do too much and not trying to shoulder everything. I have a lot of playmakers around me and I need to get them the ball and let them make plays instead of trying to play hero. When things didn't go so well, a lot of times it was me trying to force things and not seeing the whole defense and predetermining my reads and trying to force things down the field. I have to do a better job this year because those usually resulted in turnovers.
Is that a maturity thing? You see Jesse [Callier] go down and you see your offensive linemen go down and then you feel like you have to be the guy to make a play instead of trusting the system?
KP: I think so. Even if you look at our game plans, it was a lot of quick stuff to get the ball out of my hand to protect the integrity of our offensive line. But when you see four out of your five starters go down, I'm not sure if there is any quarterback in the country that wants to see that. But you have to adjust to your team. You have to adjust to your offense. That's part of the game. I have to do better at that. It could happen again this year. At least I have some experience with it now.
And that leads us to 2013. Obviously, a lot of hype and lot of expectations for you guys considering who is coming back. What are the short-term and long-term goals for you guys?
KP: Short term is obviously Boise State. We have to take care of them. We had a chance to close them out and we didn't do that. That's on me. I put the last two losses on myself. There were a couple other games also where I feel like I lost the game. Long term we're looking at the Rose Bowl and we're looking to compete. We have a tough conference and our division is tough with Oregon and Stanford and Oregon State. But we have to focus on ourselves and not worry about them. We know we can perform at a certain level. We set a standard for ourselves by beating two top-10 teams last year. It's just about being consistent.
I assume you liked playing at CenturyLink. But what are you expecting getting back to Husky Stadium?
KP: It's going to be electric. I can't wait to get in there. We do our little "dawg walk" before the game and seeing the fans tailgating, it gets your blood flowing and your juices flowing. Playing at CenturyLink was different because we didn't have our dawg walk. We walked right into the stadium. Now we can interact with the fans and it's going to be fun.
Finish these sentences for me: In 2013, Keith Price will be _______?
In 2013, Washington will be _______?
KP: We'll be better.