Lots of gab locally this week about the possible Heisman candidacy of University of Washington quarterback Keith Price. The talk accelerated after Price tossed four more touchdown passes in Saturday’s 52-24 wipeout of Colorado at Husky Stadium, but it realistically doesn’t amount to much at this point, and won’t until Price wins what Art Thiel of Sportspress Northwest describes as an “elevator” game.
An “elevator” win is one in which Price excels stylistically and statistically in leading Washington to a victory over a high-profile opponent, preferably on TV, thereby elevating his national profile. For all of his superb work through six games, Price has yet to do that. Which is to say, beating Eastern Washington, Utah and Colorado isn’t going to garner the attention of Heisman voters.
But beating No. 7 Stanford Saturday would constitute an elevator win, and that’s how Price’s Heisman candidacy would realistically gain traction. But if the Huskies lose to Stanford — oddsmakers have established the Cardinal as 20-point favorites — Price would have only one, and perhaps two, elevator games remaining, against No. 9 Oregon Nov. 5 and at USC Nov. 12.
In a Husky context, Price’s performance is unprecedented. With 21 touchdown passes through six games, Price is on a pace — which he can’t possibly sustain, can he? — to throw a boggling 42. The UW single-season record is 28, by Cody Pickett in 2002, which now suddenly looks puny.
A few weeks ago, when Price was little more than a rumor to most Seattle sports fans, we took stock of several record-book assaults then being conducted by the sophomore quarterback. Where Price stands now:
— With 21 touchdown passes (Price is one of six UW quarterbacks with more than 20 TD passes in a season), he needs eight in Washington’s final six games to break Pickett’s single-season record. Pickett had 13 TD passes through six en route to 28 (Price also needs five TD throws to break Brock Huard’s single-season record by a sophomore, 25).
— Price is completing .694 percent of his passes. Steve Pelluer set the school single-season record of .650 in 1983, the year that he was named Pac-10 Offensive Player of the Year.
— Sporting a 177.9 passer efficiency rating, Price remains well ahead of the school record, Brock Huard’s 153.8, set in 1997.
Caveat: Pass efficiency does not measure a quarterbacks overall ability, which includes leadership, huddle and clock management, play calling (Steve Sarkisian calls UW plays) and a host of other of skills. But pass efficiency does measure a quarterback’s throwing effectiveness, and Price stands way ahead of every other passer in school history. Example: When Billy Joe Hobert quarterbacked the Huskies to the co-national championship in 1991, his passer rating was 142.0.
Price has been responsible for 121 points this season, the result of his 21 touchdown passes. That works out to 21.0 points per game (among all FBS passers, only Baylor’s Robert Griffin, at 24.0, has a higher production rate.) The UW single-season record is 14.8, by Mark Brunell in 1990. Most points responsible for per game in a season, with Price shown for comparison purposes:
|2011||Keith Price||QB||6||121||21.0||Next at Stanford vs. Luck|
|1990||Mark Brunell||QB||12||178||14.8||Led UW to 10-2 record|
|1991||Billy Joe Hobert||QB||12||174||14.5||QB’d perfect 12-0 season|
|2002||Cody Pickett||QB||13||186||14.3||Generated 504 career points|
|2009||Jake Locker||QB||12||170||14.2||Generated 496 career points|
|1997||Brock Huard||QB||11||148||13.5||Personal-best 25 TD passes|
|2007||Jake Locker||QB||12||162||13.5||Best at UW by a freshman|
|1951||H. McElhenny||RB||10||125||12.5||1952 1st-round NFL pick|
|1996||Corey Dillon||RB||12||150||12.5||25 TDs in lone season at UW|
|1986||Chris Chandler||QB||12||144||12||Led UW to ’86 Sun Bowl|
|1991||Mario Bailey||WR||12||108||9||Had 18 TD catches|
Price has thrown four touchdown passes in a game three times, vs. Hawaii, at Nebraska and vs. Colorado. He is the first quarterback in Washington history to have a trio of four-TD games in a single season (several former UW quarterbacks had two, most recently Locker in 2010).
Of all the remarkable numbers Price has produced, we like this one the best: 12.35 percent of his 122 throws have resulted in touchdowns (3 vs. Eastern Washington, 4 vs. Hawaii, 4 at Nebraska, 3 vs. California, 3 at Utah, 4 vs. Colorado). The top single-season mark in school history is 9.12 percent by Brock Huard in 1997. The best percentage after that: 7.52 by Hobert in 1991.
No one could have imagined that Lockers replacement would convert 12.35 percent of his passes into touchdowns, especially when the icon that wore No. 10 converted just 4.91 percent of his career throws into scores.
Highest touchdown percentage in a single season (Price again included for comparison purposes):
|2011||Keith Price||12.35%||21 TD passes among his 170 throws|
|1997||Brock Huard||9.12%||25 touchdowns in 274 attempts|
|1991||Billy Joe Hobert||7.52%||24 touchdowns in his 319 attempts|
|1973||Chris Rowland||6.41%||5 of 15 TD passes came against Cal|
|1950||Don Heinrich||6.33%||Made 221 throws, tallied 14 touchdowns|
|1986||Chris Chandler||6.29%||20 touchdowns in 318 pass attempts|
And in case you are wondering, Stanford’s Andrew Luck, the Heisman favorite and almost certain to become the No. 1 overall pick in next spring’s NFL Draft, has a touchdown percentage of 9.94 through six games.