April 19, 2005
SEATTLE - Quarterback has been one of the most consistent positions at Washington for a long time. The program has produced players like Sonny Sixkiller, Marques Tuiasosopo and Cody Pickett, each of who started at least two full seasons at UW.
Last year was different. UW used three different starting quarterbacks through their first seven games. Following the season, the Huskies picked up one more signal-caller, leaving the position with four players vying for the same starting spot.
Despite the abundance of options, head coach Tyrone Willingham has said that he will not name his starter this spring under any circumstances, causing quite a discussion as spring practices come to an end this Saturday.
"I've been through it once," said Casey Paus who started eight games last year including the final four contests. "I got really nervous about it then and I beat myself up about it. Now I know that you can't let any of that stuff affect you. That's one of my biggest changes since last season. This is my last season and I want to make the most of it and I'm not going to let little things affect me."
Paus is the only quarterback to play in every game last season, something he hopes will help his chances of being the starter come fall.
"I'm old, so to speak. I'm the vet," said the only senior of the four quarterbacks. "I've played in these games and, in my opinion, I've dealt with some of the worst adversity and best adversity this program has ever seen. I've truly seen the lows and I've experienced some of the highs. I've been with this program for four years and I know the guys on this team."
The others competing with Paus are junior Isaiah Stanback and sophomores Carl Bonnell and Johnny DuRocher. Stanback and Bonnell played for UW last season while DuRocher joined the team after two seasons at Oregon where he was involved in a similar situation.
"When I was at Oregon the back-up job was up in the air," said DuRocher, a native of Puyallup, Wash. "I think that has really helped me a lot in terms of mentally preparing for what you're going to go through. I think the biggest thing you have to understand is that these things aren't won in one practice or one scrimmage. A lot of times they're not won in one spring. It's about how consistent you can be throughout your time here."
Both quarterbacks acknowledge that Willingham has done a good job of giving everyone an equal opportunity during the spring. They also agree that the best approach to the situation is to only worry about their performance when it's their turn.
"You take the reps that they give you and you make the most of them," explained Paus. "That's the philosophy I've had since day one."
"I know when it's my turn to go in, I want to complete as many balls as possible," added DuRocher. "I think the other guys are the same way. We don't get caught up in who's getting what reps and who's running with what team. That's one of those things that we have no control over."
If the players had a choice, they would prefer to know who has the upper hand going into the fall, but they understand that it won't be like that.
"In a perfect world, you'd want to know where you're going to be coming into the fall," Paus said. "I'm sure they'll have some ideas, but who knows what's going to happen."
DuRocher agrees, but takes a slightly different angle at the situation.
"We have a lot of time left before we start playing football," said the Bethel High School alum. "The most important thing is that we don't play tomorrow. They can name a starter today, but it doesn't matter because we're not playing until September."