Q&A - Hugh Millen

SEATTLE - Dawgman.com caught up with former UW quarterback Hugh Millen for his take on Keith Price's maturation and Derrick Brown's development after the Huskies' first Saturday practice of Spring Football. He also talked about some of the targets Price and Brown have available to them and the impact they'll have on making the quarterback's job easier this fall.

On Keith Price becoming the focal point of the offense now - "Yeah. It was such a different mindset from last year. He was in a 'prove it' mindset. Jake (Locker) had moved on, and he had the advantage of starting against Oregon, but he was still in a competition with Nick Montana and no one knew what he could do over the long haul. But he responded to that well, and now he's got a different mindset. I don't think there's any reason to be concerned about it, but he's going to still have to adjust and can he elevate his game with a totally different mindset when everyone is expecting him to be the man and he's on some Heisman lists, or what have you…or if the coach is saying he's now the strength of the team instead of the question mark? So the mindset is something that he's going to have to handle, and I think he's wired to do that."

On if last year was more based on Polk giving Price room to shine, or was it more about Keith? - "If you look it objectively on first glance and you take his passing numbers and put them into the NFL passer rating calculator - he ends up with 111 passer rating. And if you go down on the list in the history of the NFL…I don't know this off the top of my head, but I would bet that there's not been…I know the record is 121.5, so how many guys have been 111 or better? It's probably happened less than 10 times by five or six quarterbacks. I'm just guessing, I could be off…but for a sophomore to come in and do that, that's really spectacular. As it relates to Chris Polk, naturally Polk was a huge factor in that. Defenses had to stop him, and particularly with play-action…if you look at it in your mind's eye the first drive against Hawaii where they go play-action and have all those completions…they are in the end zone in three plays and at least two of those completions came out of play-action. That's people feeling like they've got to suck up to Chris, and then Austin is running through the secondary because of the play-action fake.

"So there's no doubt Chris helped Keith, but Keith also helped Chris. The fact that Keith presented a challenge was a big factor. Chris has five touchdowns against Arizona, but by then Keith had established himself as a bonafide red zone threat to throw touchdown passes."

On what should be fans' expectations of Keith this spring - "I can't think or talk about Keith Price without the first thing that comes to mind is where he is health-wise, because we really only saw Keith healthy for about five quarters last year. He hurt his knee in the Eastern Washington game and from that point on, the whole bootleg game shut down. The things that you saw from Jake, so much of Jake's success was faking one way and bootlegging out the other side - naked. Keith, after the first quarter, he couldn't do the nakeds. They did some read zone and they did fakes off the read zone, but they couldn't do a lot of the nakeds that they liked to do in this offense. You saw SC's offense with Sarkisian, they had a lot of nakeds coming out. Just like with (Mike) Shanahan and Jake Plummer…there are just some offenses you really want to have that naked coming out. And they didn't have it.

"So what I would think can reasonably happen for Keith, you just hope for him to get healthy so that he can run the nakeds like the offense needs him to run, and he can put some wiggle on people and move around to slow pass rushes down. If you watch the Oregon tape and the way they rushed him, they didn't fear him escaping at all. A guy that has some wiggle, and if you're only 6-foot or 6-1, you've got to have that wiggle to slow the pass rush down. So Keith had the worst of both worlds; he's only 6-1, and he had no mobility. They would come in on him, and guys are getting shoved back into his face and he can't see…it all plays hand-in-hand. It's remarkable that at the end of the day he was able to have a 111 passer rating with that little mobility.

"So we saw it for a quarter against Eastern, and then we saw about 90 percent of himself against Baylor because he had a few weeks to heal. He had three rushing touchdowns, and he made some people miss. That playmaking ability keeps drives alive…the ability to now force defenses to consider how they want to play man coverage. If you want to play man coverage with two safeties back to help on either half of the field, with Keith's mobility he can really kill you. So now you're forced to play man-to-man with one less rusher, or one less safety high - and now you're getting single coverage out there for Kasen (Williams).

"So there's layers to all this stuff…the dots connect. In my mind they do. But the mobility has so many dots spreading out of there, and for him to get his mobility back - I'm just really elated to see what he can do over the course of a majority of a season with the mobility and the experience and the confidence and all."

On there being a lot riding on Price's health for the success of UW's season - "I think so. With Nick (Montana) transferring out of here, it's a big concern. The backup quarterback position is a big concern, because you're either relying on a guy that's really raw in Derrick, or you're relying on a true freshman. That's a huge concern right now. Derrick needs to develop."

On what he saw at practice - "Here's the thing that Keith has; he has two star quality targets. Seferian-Jenkins is a man among boys out here. He's in his second year of college football and he's an absolute man among children. And Kasen has NFL stamped all over his body and he has the desire and he has the intelligence. Both of those guys, you don't have to be a Husky homer, a Husky Honk, to envision them being first round draft picks. Seferian-Jenkins is probably closer to that because he's had the more dominant season, but Kasen is on a fast track. Austin also had an extra spring that Kasen didn't have; Austin was like a freshman-plus last year.

"I would say, to have two…they aren't sure-fire first round draft picks, but they have first round talent…that's a great asset for him. One guy is a perimeter guy, and one's a middle-field guy. And I thought James Johnson looked good too. So I think he looks good. James Johnson, he needs to look good, because it looks like he's going to be the Z, be that other receiver opposite Kasen. He's got the experience, he's got that ability, he's healthy now - he should have a big year. If I'm James Johnson, I'd be hoping to catch 60 balls this year. That may be a lofty number, but I don't think that's out of the question."

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