Aug. 31, 2005
By Benton Strong
When the Huskies offense lines up against Air Force on Saturday, it will be Isaiah Stanback, the the local product with dread-lock hair, calling the snaps. After a long wait, it's finally his turn.
Coach Tyrone Willingham made the announcement Tuesday, after telling the quarterback and the team. For Stanback it will be the second start of his college career and a much different feeling than the first one last year again USC.
His one career start came in a 38-0 loss in Los Angeles during an undefeated season for the Trojans. Now he'll get to begin the season as the team's starting quarterback, a position he hasn't filled regularly since his senior year of high school.
The junior out of Seattle's Garfield High School said his plan was to start last year, but many factors contributed to him getting the nod just once. Stanback says the experience he has gained will help him make the team better. He will be directing a team that is in need of a leader. It's the exact job he has been waiting for since he came to Washington.
"All I asked for was the opportunity," Stanback said. "I knew I wasn't going to play as long as Cody [Pickett] was here. So I came in with the attitude to try to learn as much as I could."
Since Stanback is relatively inexperienced, he is very happy with the fact that Willingham has made it clear that he will let the quarterback make mistakes and work through them.
"That helps a lot," he said. "To know that he is going to stick with you and give you a chance to make mistakes and learn. I just can't make too many.
The Husky coaching staff is confident that Stanback will be alright. Offense coordinator Tim Lappano has expressed his pleasure with Stanback's progress, especially on the mental aspects of playing quarterback.
"That's what I worked at all off-season," said Stanback, who credits Casey Paus for helping him with the cerebral part of the game. "I look up to Casey. He really prepares himself well for games and he's really knowledgeable about the games."
It has obviously shown on and off the field, pushing Stanback to the front of the depth chart. He has heard the skeptics criticize his lack of knowledge of the game and his work ethic. Stanback isn't worried about weaknesses or any other things that are out of his control.
"I try to make my weaknesses my strength," he said.
Stanback just ignores the criticisms, epecially since he has the support of his coaches and teammates.
"He's going to do a great job," fellow quarterback Johnny Durocher said. "He earned the job and he played well this fall."