I don't think I've ever enjoyed a close "exciting" game less than this Maaco Las Vegas Bowl. Despite being close throughout the second half, the Huskies led only once and by just one point. UW dropped a likely TD pass and missed a short field goal. They could have easily had an 8 point lead on BSU's game winning drive. The defense played well on 1st and 2nd downs but was terrible on 3rd down and worse on 4th down (although that last 4th down conversion was bullshit and Peterson couldn't hide it with his surprised grin). All due respect to BSU, but UW worked their asses off to give this one away. It was a perfect encapsulation of the 2012 Husky season.
I've never seen a QB regress like Keith Price has. Yes, his WRs are below average (especially Mickens), his line is awful in pass pro, but Bishop Sankey had 281 total yards of offense today and Keith Price still looked like crap most of this game. He took sacks Matt Flynn could have avoided, he passed up chances to tuck the ball and jog (or limp) for an easy 10 yards, he took a sack on a play he could have legally and easily throw the ball away on, he was horribly inaccurate on most of his passes, and he threw a couple of ugly blind picks. He also missed a few wide open options, one of which would have been a sure TD. For my money, I think this might have been Price's worst game yet when considering all the help he was getting from Bishop Sankey.
Last year, it was Nick Holt that was obviously holding the team back. This year, it's UW's passing offense. After the Alamo Bowl Sark took a day to think things over before firing Holt, which given their relationship was not easy to do. It's time he did the same at QB. UW has a couple of high rated WRs coming in next month, barring a school switch. UW also has a few QBs on their roster that are highly recruited and profile similarly to guys like Colin Kaepernick or Marcus Mariota. Cyler Miles and Troy Williams (if he stays committed) both have outstanding athleticism, and Jeff Lindquist is no slouch athletically either. Given Price's constant injuries and luke warm explosiveness when healthy, it's likely that he'd be the 3rd or maybe even 4th most athletic QB on UW's roster this spring. And athleticism matters, a ton, especially given the role it plays for a point guard QB and UW's tilt towards the read option in recent months.
Keith Price has some good qualities and seems like a really nice person, but I think UW has to at least open up the QB position to competition this spring and give some of those athletic QBOTF's a chance to take the job right now. I'm not even the biggest fan of Mariota compared to a certain someone, but if UW had Mariota starting over Price today it would have been a blowout win for UW. If none of them look ready or if Price improves his play, then fine. But to me, the team has to at least look and find out. Sadly, precedent shows this to be very unlikely.
Jaydon Mickens had three drops today on probably four or five targets, the perfect ending to a season in which it felt like he had more mistakes than catches. I have to hope that he's the next Golden Tate story: Golden Tate was hot garbage in the 2011 preseason before turning things around, but usually players this bad stay bad. However, he just keeps getting large numbers of reps, and I think it's a huge statement to the sorry state of our WR corps right now.
Our best WR (Williams) is really just an average WR before the catch, and he had a huge drop in this game as well. People ripped Kearse and not without good reason at times, but he's miles better than anything UW had in their WR group this season. Consider also that Keith Price had 39 pass attempts today and only two of them were caught by someone other than ASJ/Williams/Sankey. Both of those catches were by Mickens, who sucks. I really hope Stringfellow and Daniels are the real deal, because our WR corps is brutal right now.
Remember when Marshawn Lynch had that "light bulb coming on" moment in 2011 around midseason? Sankey has done the same in 2012. He went from over-rated and ineffective in his first 1.5 seasons to being a force down the stretch for UW. His 1439 rushing yards this season are just behind Chris Polk's career best 1488 last season. That's extremely impressive given his slow start to the season and all the injuries and ineffectiveness on the O-line. I think Sankey might just have a real shot at getting the UW rushing record in 2014, especially if he is paired sooner rather than later with a very athletic QB that can make the read option as deadly as it's been for Oregon or Arizona.
Bishop Sankey was the player of the game. It's not often a broadcast picks a player of the game from the losing team, but I don't think they had a choice. He was excellent today.
I was actually really impressed with UW's defense today on 1st and 2nd downs. Boise State had a couple of nice runs but most of their rush attempts were stuffed, they couldn't attack the edges, and it seemed like most of their first downs were made by the slimmest of margins all day long. I think BSU was extremely fortunate to win this game today, no disrespect intended. They deserved to win, but they got a lot of breaks and barely pulled it out, and UW's speed on defense was a big reason for that.
I think Sark did a great job preparing his team for this game. BSU had no answer for UW's rushing attack, not even after halftime. Conversely, Boise State wanted to run the ball and attack the sidelines with bubble screens, and consistently all game UW players were always in the right position to make stops. If Keith Price had played even an average game, I think they beat BSU pretty easily. I really hate to pin a loss on one guy, especially when BSU's QB played decently well and UW's defense was ridiculously unclutch, but yeah, that's pretty much the gist of it.