Aug. 31, 2004
It's been a long summer for Casey Paus, but the payoff for those hours spent lifting weights, studying the playbook and working on routes with his receivers comes Sunday. On that day, the senior from New Lenox, Ill., will take the field as Washington's starting quarterback, and attempt to lead the Huskies to victory against Fresno State. While Sunday will mark Paus' first start in a Husky uniform, he has already carved a niche for himself in Husky Stadium lore -- last year, substituting in the second half against Oregon for injured quarterback Cody Pickett, Paus led the Huskies to a 42-10 win, including a 63-yard scoring strike to Reggie Williams. Paus is excited to be back on the field Sunday, and has high hopes for the Husky offense in 2004.
GoHuskies.com: When was the last game that you started at quarterback?
Casey Paus: "My last start was back in 2000, in my senior year of high school. It was snowing and it was the semifinals of the state playoffs. We were playing a team called Maine South. It was a good game, but unfortunately the outcome wasn't -- we lost on a missed field goal, 36-35 in double overtime."
GH: How hard was it to wait four years for your chance to play?
CP: "It's definitely difficult because I hate to sit around waiting. At the same time, it was a great opportunity to learn from the players that were around me, and the coaching staff. Because of that experience, I feel like I've seen almost everything and that there's not really that many new things that can be thrown at me."
GH: Have you had a chance to talk to your brother (former UCLA starting quarterback Cory Paus) since being named the starter?
CP: "We've been playing phone tag, but I've just said hello to him, and let him know that I'm the starter. He had nothing but good things to say. I haven't really got a chance to sit down and talk to him yet. I plan on talking to him a couple of times during the week, but I'm sure hell have a lot of advice for me."
GH: Have you talked to Cody Pickett or any other former Husky quarterbacks since the starting job was announced?
CP: "I've tried to call him, but he's been hard to get a hold of. Other than that, I've run into Marques (Tuiasosopo) a couple of times this summer in passing. He just told me to go out and do my thing. Other than that I haven't gotten any advice from too many ex-players."
GH: Do you feel different now that you are officially the starter?
CP: "Yeah, definitely. It's kind of like an inner confidence. I'm feeling more comfortable with the guys around me, in terms of my confidence level, and the confidence my teammates have for me. It's definitely different coming into this fall then it has been."
GH: You came in last year during the Oregon game and were successful. How much will that experience help you this year?
CP: "From the mental aspect, knowing what to expect on the field, I think it'll make a big difference. But it's a whole new season and a whole new game with a whole new team."
GH: How would you describe your demeanor and style in the huddle?
CP: "As a player I definitely want to be smart with the ball. As a quarterback you need to be in charge of that huddle. The players need to have confidence in you. You definitely need to be able to look them in the eye and have them know that you know what you're doing. At the same time, you have to have fun. I love having fun around these guys and I love joking around and having a good time. The more fun you have, I feel, the better you play. So, as long as we can stay focused on the task at hand and have fun, I think we'll be alright."
GH: Is there any receiver that you have connected especially well with through spring and summer workouts?
CP: "E.T. [Charles Frederick] is obviously a phenomenal receiver. Bobby Whithorne has definitely stepped it up quite a bit for us. Corey [Williams] is playing really well for us right now and then Anthony Russo and Sonny [Shackelford] are doing real well. Right now I feel really comfortable with all of them. Granted, they're `young,' but I think all of them know what their role is and are very excited to do something with the ball."
GH: What is the strength of the offense right now?
CP: "Our strength is in our diversity. We have plenty of weapons out there and I think were going to use all of the weapons that we have. I'd definitely say that we're a well-rounded team; that's the best way to describe us right now."
GH: When you walk down the tunnel on Sunday, how are you going to keep from boiling over with anticipation?
CP: "I haven't really thought about it, but I'm sure that it'll be a different story on Sunday. Once you get me on the field you'll probably see some emotion, but before I'll probably be giving a cold stare. Mentally, you have to be poised for the guys around you because if they see you nervous, they're going to start being nervous. I'm going to do the best that I can to show the offense that I'm comfortable."
GH: What are some of the reasons that you are expecting this team to succeed this season?
CP: "We're a very dedicated team. Everybody's dedicated to the task at hand and we're focused on the goal that we've set in front of ourselves. A lot of these guys have worked hard and been here a long time. They have a lot of dedication to this program. At the same time we've become more intertwined -- not only does everyone have the same vision, but it seems like everyone is anticipating the same thing."
GH: Were you able to be yourself during the battle for the starting quarterback spot, or was it hard to act like the real Casey Paus because you were under such a close microscope?
CP: "I think about it, but I tell myself to stop, relax, be myself, and that's what I'm going to do. I'm not going to let it get to me. Most of all I have to stay relaxed and under control."
GH: You graduated high school with a GPA above 4.0, have you been able to do well in your classes at UW also?
CP: "I feel like I've done pretty well. I have a 3.33 GPA in college so far. It's different, but at the same time it's not too different. My mom's a high school teacher so she's always putting pressure on me for grades, so my motivational factor in the classroom has been my mom and making her happy. She teaches math at the high school I went to."
GH: You just recently changed your major, is that right?
CP: "I am now an economics major. The program I originally wanted to get into, industrial design, was dropped by the university. I chose economics because I have gradually taken more math classes and I've always been good with numbers, so it seemed like the sensible thing to do. I still have all my supplies and some unfinished pieces that I still work on here and there."
GH: Do you get any grief from teammates because of the way you've excelled with your academics?
CP: "You have to be yourself. I've always felt that way. I'm relaxed and being myself, and if people want to judge me that way, then that happens. I'm going to be myself and be the best player I can as well as a good person.
GH: Any other comments?
CP: "I just can't wait to get out there in front of the fans."
GH: OK, Casey, thanks! And good luck!