When it came time to name a starting quarterback, Washington coach Steve Sarkisian went to his Twitter account.
The Huskies' third-year coach sent a tweet Thursday to announce that redshirt freshman quarterback Nick Montana would make his first career start Saturday against Oregon State, in place of injured starter Keith Price.
Montana, the son of NFL Hall of Famer Joe Montana, had taken first-team snaps in practice this week. As recently as Wednesday, Sarkisian had played it coy, refusing to discuss the QB situation and keeping offensive players off limits for interviews.
"Nick Montana will make his first career start this Saturday," Sarkisian's tweet read. "So proud, he has earned this opportunity. Need to get Keith Price fully healthy, he has had a great season."
Washington (6-4, 4-3 Pac-12) is third in the league's North Division and is bowl-eligible for the second straight season under Sarkisian.
Price injured his left knee in a 40-17 loss to USC last week. An MRI on Monday showed no structural damage but the mobile 6-foot-1, 195-pound sophomore has worn a knee brace and has not participated in full practices.
Price has been sensational in his first season as Jake Locker's replacement, completing 65 percent of his passes and throwing for 25 touchdowns and just 10 interceptions.
Montana is a 6-foot-3, 203-pound redshirt freshman who has had limited action this year. He has completed 13 of 20 passes for 147 yards and has played in four games, including mop up duty in a win over Colorado and in losses to USC and Stanford.
Against Oregon, Montana entered the game for one play while Price was temporarily banged up. He completed a 53-yard pass to Kasen Williams and was immediately relieved by Price.
"I think he's gotten better consistently the entire time he has been here," Sarkisian said of Montana. "I really think he has improved, but the last month specifically has been his best
Oregon State coach Mike Riley said he was preparing his team the same way, regardless of who suits up at quarterback for the Huskies. He expects Montana will be up to the task.
"He's been around a little bit," Riley said. "He's probably had a lot of work. All of the quarterbacks in their system can handle what they do."
The Beavers (2-8, 2-5) are playing out the season looking to the future.
It is the final home game for Oregon State's 17 seniors, including safety Lance Mitchell, linebacker Cameron Collins, punter Johnny Hekker, tight end Joe Halahuni and receiver James Rodgers, who could become Oregon State's all-time leading receiver with
three catches Saturday.
Mike Hass had 220 catches from 2003-05. Rodgers passed former Beaver great James Newson (212 catches from 2001-03) last week. Rodgers is already the Beavers' all-time leader in all-purpose yards. He needs two touchdowns to tie Hass and Newson with 20.
"He wasn't the same receiver as those guys when he was young," Riley said of Rodgers. "He worked his way up to a great receiver."
The Beavers are hoping for a different result Saturday than last year's matchup in Seattle, when the Huskies held on to win 35-34 in double-overtime after Oregon State's Halahuni couldn't hold on to a two-point conversion pass attempt from Ryan Katz. The Beavers were 3-2 and ranked No. 24 going into the game. They have gone 4-13 since, the worst stretch the team has had since Riley's first stint as coach began in 1997.
"It's not for a lack of effort or lack of commitment," Collins said. "Guys on this team worked their butts off."
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)