Wide receiver Kevin Smith has made a huge impact for the Huskies in his senior season, catching 21 passes for a team-high 367 yards.
Wide receiver Kevin Smith has made a huge impact for the Huskies in his senior season, catching 21 passes for a team-high 367 yards.Photo by Joshua Bessex
Keith Price and Kevin Smith know a thing or two about tough times.
After becoming one of the rising quarterback stars in college football in 2011, Price struggled to get into rhythm last season, as he spent much of the year on his backside. Smith, meanwhile, recovered from a torn ACL suffered in the 2011 Alamo Bowl and made it back in time to catch two passes in the season opener against San Diego State. It looked like he was ready to become a focal point of the UW offense. That didn’t happen. Smith caught just four more balls the whole season.
But this year, despite the tough sledding in 2012, both the quarterback and the wide receiver have made their marks.
Price and Smith have each taken major leaps forward in their senior seasons. After tossing 19 touchdowns and 13 interceptions last season, Price’s return to form has become one of the major storylines of the season, with 11 touchdowns and three picks through his first five games.
Smith’s rise has been even more meteoric and even more unexpected. He came into this year with 22 catches to his name, and he has 21 through five games this year. Suddenly the now-healthy wide receiver has developed into Price’s favorite deep threat, with a team-high 367 receiving yards and two scores.
“He’s tremendous for me,” Price said. “He’s a real heady receiver, very smart, knows all the ins and outs of the offense, and he just goes up and makes plays for me.”
Both players put themselves on the national map in this past week’s loss to Stanford, though not necessarily for the reason they wanted. The two were in the spotlight when Price’s final pass of the night squeaked through Smith’s arms, with the ball barely touching the ground and sealing the UW’s first loss of the season.
Even in defeat, however, there were a lot of positives for the pair. Price threw for 350 yards and two touchdowns despite playing with an injured thumb on his throwing hand, and Smith hauled in six passes for 98 yards and a score.
But Price was not totally satisfied with his play.
“I left a lot of throws out there that could have probably changed the outcome of the game,” Price said. “I have to do a better job of making the easy ones, making the ones that the defense gives to me, so hopefully I’ll do a better job this week.”
Smith did not have a perfect night against the Cardinal either. Early in the game, a few of his drops hurt the Huskies, ending drives before they could get going. But he recovered and ended up making a positive impact for the UW in the waning minutes of the game, making impressive sideline catches.
With a massive game coming up Saturday against Oregon, the Huskies will certainly need a few more of those big plays. Price and Smith will be doing what they can to make them happen.
Wednesday practice notes:
— Left tackle Micah Hatchie was wearing a yellow noncontact jersey at practice. The UW’s offensive line has had the same five starters all season.
— Punter Travis Coons took kickoff reps in the place of usual kickoff specialist Cameron Van Winkle. Van Winkle was “not 100 percent” in the UW’s game against Stanford and is still resting in preparation for Saturday.
— Wide receiver Darrell Daniels has been moved to tight end for the remainder of the season. The coaching staff plans to keep the 6-foot-4 freshman at his new position through spring camp.
— Saturday’s game will be a “blackout,” and the Huskies announced they will wear new matte black helmets.
Reach reporter Daniel Rubens at firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @drubens12
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