Sunday, September 1, 2013
Price, Huskies dominate Boise State
By Ted Miller
SEATTLE -- The first game of a college football season is not a destination. It's only the initial part of the journey, and often it is not terribly indicative of how things might play out over the course of the next three months. The euphoria of a big opening day win can disappear in the mire of a midseason slump. A disappointing loss can become a touchstone for a special season.
So it's probably unwise to write heroic couplets about Washington's dominant 38-6 victory over No. 19 Boise State and draw epic conclusions about the state of the program as it opens a fancy remodeled Husky Stadium, which is freaking spectacular. Yes, the Huskies dominated a ranked team on both sides of the ball. Yes, it seems meaningful that Washington QB Keith Price had a brilliant game. But the Huskies have flirted with a return to national relevance before, only to go rear-end-over-tea-kettle just as folks were raising an inquisitive eyebrow.
"One game doesn't define us," Price said. "I know we have a long way to go. It's a long season."
And yet this was a really impressive performance in front of 71,963 fans who made Husky Stadium quake like it did during the good old days.
You have to start with Price. He completed 23 of 31 passes for 324 yards with a pair of touchdown passes, which gave him 56 for his career -- a new school record, eclipsing Cody Pickett. He also rushed for 25 yards. His efficiency rating of 176.8 would have led the nation in 2012.
Yet the best part of his performance might be that all that happened after a miserable start. Price threw an interception on his first pass of the game. You could almost hear the collective, "Oh, no, not again," in the stadium.
"I threw a bad ball -- no excuse," Price said. "But I told myself I wasn't going to get down and I'm going to lead my team. Nobody was really tripping on the sideline."
The Huskies' offense, in fact, didn't really start churning until the second half. Going into the locker room at halftime, it was only 10-3, with both offenses regretting wasted opportunities.
But things turned Washington's way quickly in the third. Price hit Kasen Williams for a 38-yard gain. Then he hit him again for a 19-yard touchdown and a 17-6 lead on the next play. Price, masterly running a new, up-tempo offense, ended the Huskies' next possession with an 18-yard strike to reserve tight end Joshua Perkins for a 24-6 advantage.
Perkins likely was the target there because All-America tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins was out, suspended due to an offseason DUI. Perkins was one of seven players who caught passes from Price, with Jaydon Mickens leading the charge with nine receptions for 109 yards.
With running back Bishop Sankey producing 161 of the Huskies' 268 rushing yards, it's pretty clear this offense has plenty of weapons, even with its biggest one sitting out.
"It was awesome to see other guys stepping up," Price said. "Once [Seferian-Jenkins] gets back, it's going to be kind of scary."
Coach Steve Sarkisian said after the game Seferian-Jenkins will return for the Huskies' Sept. 14 game at Illinois.
But the Huskies didn't provide Boise State its worst defeat since 2005 only because of the offense. The Washington defense holding the Broncos to their lowest point total since 1997 (a 58-0 loss to Washington State) is pretty meaningful, too. The Broncos only gained 3.9 yards per play. Their longest running play was 18 yards. Their longest passing play was 16 yards.
"We kept the ball in front of us," Sarkisian said about the Broncos' lack of big plays.
For a while, it was bend-but-don't-break. By the end, it was something more physically impressive.
"They dominated us in all phases," Boise State coach Chris Petersen said.
Still, the story has to be Price, who began spring practices with an implicit threat that his starting job was up for grabs. That, Price said, was all the motivation he needed. A guy known for his easy smile -- his nickname is "Teeth" -- and mellow ways decided to get a little angry.
"I had a chip on my shoulder. I still do," he said. "I had a lot to prove to myself and a lot to prove to you guys. I know I've still got a long way to go."
Price was sacked 38 times last year, which ranked 102nd in the nation. He was sacked only once by the Broncos. Price having time to throw was a big reason the Huskies were 11-of-15 on third down.
"It was good running around and getting back to the old me," Price said.
Washington fans probably felt the same about the entire team, which ran around looking like the old Huskies -- the 1980s, early-1990s versions.
No, one game doesn't make a season. But if an opening game can be allowed to at least suggest something, this one hinted that Washington might make some noise this season.