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October 17, 2011

Nothing preposterous about Keith Price in Heisman conversation

There's no question through six weeks that quarterback Keith Price has been the most valuable player on the Washington Huskies.

He's been extremely good; record breaking good.

But has he been good enough to launch his name into Heisman Trophy consideration?

Washington fans are just a year removed from a Heisman Trophy campaign for quarterback Jake Locker that was derailed before it ever got going.

But the case for Price is different; he's making plays, winning games and putting up eye-popping numbers all at the same time.
The Huskies are 5-1 overall, 3-0 in the Pac-12 Conference and they've been riding the shoulders of Price all season long.

Through six games, Price is second in the nation with 21 touchdown passes, just one behind Robert Griffin III from Baylor. His 21 scoring throws are tied for the fourth most in Washington single season history. The record is 28, and Price is on pace to shatter that record with 42 for the season.

Price, a 6-foot-1 sophomore from Compton, Calif., isn't like some of the other quarterbacks in the Heisman conversation. He hasn't been asked to throw the ball 40 times a game. Instead, Price feeds the run game and then dissects secondaries with superb accuracy. He's 11th in the country in completion percentage.

The best example of this, even with Price putting up huge numbers, is that tailback Chris Polk is having an incredible season as well. He's run for over 100 yards in all but one game, averaging 121.3 yards per game on the ground.

Price is fifth in the nation in passing efficiency at 177.9 thanks in large part to his 21 touchdowns and just four interceptions on the year.

The Heisman favorite at this point is Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck, who the Huskies will see on Saturday in a Pac-12 North Division showdown.

Luck's numbers are just slightly better than Price's leading in completions, attempts, completion percentage, yards and efficiency; in fact the only major stat Price has the lead in is touchdown passes.

There's no denying that Luck has been as impressive and maybe more impressive, so he's the favorite to win the award. But why shouldn't Price, who's nipping at his heels, at least be in the conversation?

Washington coach Steve Sarkisian seemed to think so following the Huskies' 52-28 win over Colorado where Price threw four touchdown passes.

"I don't think it's preposterous," he said about the possibility of Price being in the Heisman race, "That's a big word, but I don't think it's preposterous."

The big word he was talking about was 'Heisman', not 'preposterous'. All season, Sarkisian has stayed away from putting too much pressure on Price, but with the way he's been playing, there's no way he can avoid it now.

There may be no more pressure-packed situation than next Saturday against Stanford in a game that could go a long way in determining Price's Heisman candidacy.

It will be a nationally televised game against the seventh-ranked team in the nation, against the leading Heisman candidate. If Price shines bright and carries the Huskies to a victory next week, there's no way he could be denied attention in the Heisman race.

For him to win the Heisman, the Huskies will have to win the Pac-12 and he'll need to continue to scorch opposing defenses. If his pace falls off, he can forget about it, not that he's even thinking about it.

When asked about the Heisman race, Price just laughed, saying "I just go out there to win."

In his first year as a starter, Price has plenty of time for accolades, but his incredible start to his Husky career has everyone in Seattle buzzing; and that buzz is starting to grow nationally as well.

If he continues to light up the scoreboard in the second half of the season he'll be impossible to ignore and when it comes time to voting for the Heisman, Price just might be right.

Follow UDubNation's Mitchell Larsen on Twitter @MLarsen_Rivals


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