SEATTLE (AP) — Keith Price couldn't remember the last time he felt he played so bad. Steve Sarkisian got into a funk with his play calling as Washington's offense staggered for the most of three quarters.
Fortunately the Huskies defense was there to pick up the slack.
It's been a while since that statement could be made.
"It's good to win a different style of game than we were accustomed to playing around here," Sarkisian said.
Safety Will Shamburger returned a fumble 44 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter, Price threw for 222 yards and a TD to Kasen Williams, and Washington raced to an early lead then held on for a 21-12 win over San Diego State on Saturday night.
The Huskies revamped, new look defense under new coordinator Justin Wilcox more than held their own against the Aztecs and took the first step in erasing the embarrassing memories of last year's 67 points allowed to Baylor in last December's Alamo Bowl.
Washington forced three turnovers, sacked Aztecs quarterback Ryan Katz four times and picked up its first defensive touchdown since November 2010 on Shamburger's scoop-and-score early in the third quarter.
"We're not going to be the defense of the past," Washington linebacker Travis Feeney said. "We're going to step it up this year and make sure our defense is good. We're going to be on top of things, as we were today."
Washington allowed 327 total yards, well under the 453 yards per game average allowed a year ago under previous defensive coordinator Nick Holt. And they were opportunistic with cornerback Tre Watson intercepting Katz on the Aztecs' first possession of the game and giving the Huskies a short field for their first score of the season when Bishop Sankey plowed in from the 2.
It was 14-0 after the Huskies next drive after Price hit all seven of his pass attempts, the last an inside screen to Williams, who made a quick sidestep that left Aztecs' defensive tackle Sam Meredith grasping at air and sprinted 8 yards for the two touchdown advantage.
Price finished 25 of 35 passes and completed 13 straight at one point of the first half. Tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins had nine catches for 82 yards. Yet Price was almost crestfallen talking about his poor decisions and occasionally scrambling when he should have stayed in the pocket. Price was sacked three times and took many more hits that are likely to be harder and more frequent next week at No. 3 LSU.
"I obviously didn't perform the way I expected to. I haven't played that bad a ball game in a long time," Price said. "Just got to get back on my horse and I promise I'm going play better next week."
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