For Paus, no time to wait

For two seasons, the wait was on for Casey Paus to bust out and live up to the hype that surrounding him when he arrived at Montlake in the fall of 2001. This August, the wait is over. Entering his sophomore year, the tall drop-back passer has shown great poise in the pocket and looked more comfortable running the offense than at any time in year's past. As a result, his confidence has soared.

"I've been happy with the way I'm playing, but definitely not satisfied," Paus said. "I've kind of just been chipping away at it and getting more and more reps and feeling more and more comfortable.

"The biggest thing this fall is that I've felt a whole lot more comfortable with the offense than I had in the past."

That, more than anything else, has been easily apparent. This fall camp, Paus has found the open receivers. He's passed to the right guys. And maybe most importantly, he's done it in a more timely manner.

"Now it's more or less a focus of getting the ball to the right guy and letting those guys do what they do with it," he said. "Those guys are big-time guys that can make big-time plays, so it's just a matter of getting it there."

While Paus' unorthodox throwing motion has been a sticking point for criticism in the past, the Husky coaching staff hasn't tinkered with it too much over the years. Not under former quarterback's coach Steve Axman. Not under current QB coach John Pettas.

Paus says as long as the ball gets to the right person at the right time, the coaches aren't concerned. What they are worried about is how quickly he can make the decisions he needs to.

"He's learned our system now, he pretty much has a grasp of it," said Pettas. "He knows where to go with the ball so he's making a little bit quicker decisions."

As Paus battles the home-town favorite Isaiah Stanback for the backup quarterback job, both he and Pettas understand that there's still plenty of room for improvement.

"He's become a little bit better thrower in terms of passing mechanics, so he's stepped up a little bit since his freshman year," Pettas said, "but it has to come up a notch or so to get to the level that we expect here in the Pac-10."

The distinctly different quarterback styles that Paus and Stanback bring to the table are already well documented.

Paus is the classic Dan Marino drop-back passer. Stanback is in the mold of the new-age quarterback that can hurt you with his arm and his feet.

Competition, however, isn't something that scares Paus away.

"I think the fact that there is a competition would make any human being rise their level of play," said the Illinois native. "It helps from that aspect.

"In my opinion, you are not a true competitor if you're not frustrated when you're not playing. Anybody wants to get out there and play. Of course I want to get out there and play just as much as anybody else."

Paus says the keys now are just to keep progressing and avoid becoming complacent.

"I feel like I'm on my way to doing some good things right now, and hopefully I'll be able to step in there and get some playing time down the road," Paus said.

Right now, it appears that Paus would have the edge on the backup job if the season started tomorrow. He has more experience in the system and appears more at ease running the team.

But Pettas would like to see more out of both he and Stanback before any decisions are made.

"They are both kind of up and down a little bit," said the quarterbacks coach. "We'd like to see them both be a little bit more consistent.

"We are in the position where they are both going to travel right now, so we are going to weave through it over the next week and a half and see where it takes us."

This fall, Paus hasn't hurt his chances.

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