USC Football: Trojans Prepare for a Struggling Keith Price


October 6, 2012; Eugene, OR, USA; Washington Huskies quarterback Keith Price (17) drops back to pass against the Oregon Ducks at Autzen Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott Olmos-US PRESSWIREBefore the season started, I was the guy who kept pegging Keith Price to be this year’s Robert Griffin III. He was at quarterback for an up and coming team with an offensive head coach and talented receivers and tight ends around him. It made sense. But here we are six weeks into the college football season and Washington’s highly touted quarterback is dead last in passing efficiency in the Pac-12, and only Utah’s Jon Hayes is averaging fewer yards per game. I should have chosen Geno Smith.

Sure, the Huskies have had the schedule from hell, facing the elite defenses of LSU, Stanford and Oregon in a four game stretch, but that doesn’t explain why Price is averaging just 5.6 yards per attempt and has yet to throw for 300-yards in a game, much less 225 yards.

Price isn’t getting help in front of him with an injury plagued offensive line putting the Huskies at 82nd in sacks allowed, and defenses have been able to contain Price’s most talented target, tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins.

Plus, Price’s accuracy just isn’t where it was a year ago. In 2011, he was second in the conference in passer rating, ahead of Matt Barkley and behind Andrew Luck. A big part of that was his ability to complete 66 percent of his passes and average 8.5 yards per attempt, good for 11th in the nation. This year, his completion percentage has taken a hit with Price completing passes at just a 59.5 percent clip.

Put it all together and Price has just five touchdowns compared to 17 at this point last year. Even though losses to LSU and Oregon are considered ‘good losses’ to have if there is such a thing, it doesn’t help that he combined to go 36 of 76 for 302 yards with zero touchdowns, and three interceptions including a pick six against two teams ranked No. 2 at the time he faced them. For a guy initially named as a Heisman dark horse, those numbers just don’t cut it.

And it won’t help that Price gets to play a USC defense that is third in the conference against the pass and tied for 11th in the nation in sacks. The Trojans’ defense has been underrated to date, and with the exception of Ryan Nassib’s strong performance in Week 2 for Syracuse, USC hasn’t let an opposing quarterback dictate the game. Cal’s Zach Maynard was sacked nine times and Jon Hays was the only quarterback to not throw a pair of picks at the Trojan secondary. He threw just one.

Keith Price will need to have his A-game on Saturday night, especially since Washington was supposed to be a team with lots of offense and no defense, not a team ranked 107th in passing and 40th in total defense.