Time to Paus for Husky Offense

It's a moment in time long overdue for Casey Paus, but it probably wasn't the moment he expected it to be. Instead of Paus winning the quarterbacking job at the University of Washington, he found himself in the oddest of places. Just a little while earlier he was the new guy in town - the hot-shot midwest signal-caller, the sixth-rated high school QB in the country. He was supposed to be the heir apparent. And then Cody Pickett happened. And all Casey could do was step aside and watch.

In 2003, his third year in the program, Paus was a modest 10-23 for 151 yards and 2 touchdowns for the season backing up three-year starter Pickett, with both scores coming in the second-half of Washington's 42-10 win over Oregon. It was those two quarters of play where Paus, who had only completed three passes all season to that point (in mop-up duty against Idaho), stepped up and showed a glimpse into the promise that had been delivered to Montlake three years prior in the form of a 6-5, 218-pound gun-slinging prodigy from just outside Chicago.

"It's one of those things where you wait your turn, pay your dues," Paus told Dawgman.com, looking back on the last couple of years playing second fiddle to the 'Cody Pickett-Reggie Williams' show. "And now it's at a point where guys are starting to get behind me a little and have a lot of respect for me, and that's the biggest thing. I need to earn the respect of my players and get to a point where they respect me as a player and as a quarterback. When you've got that team morale behind you, things can go one-hundred percent better.

"You get your doubts, but at the same time you've got to roll with it and work hard to get better. I feel like that's all I can do. And the coaches are giving me that chance and I just have to take it and run with it. I've gotten to the point where I'm really comfortable with the offense and I think the coaches know that and the players do too."

With only Isaiah Stanback, Carl Bonnell, and presumably Matt Tuiasosopo (baseball notwithstanding) to back him up, Casey has become the de facto leader of the Husky offense, based in large part with his understanding of how things work. It's a challenge he's taking great delight in.

"I think we've got a great quarterback crew," he said. "We've got guys that have talents in all aspects of the game and the coaches have told us that they want us to do everything with everybody. I feel real comfortable with that. It's not going to matter what skill set you have. And we have some great athletes in the quarterbacking corps, so I think that's going to help push everybody more and more.

"Right now I'm just watching film, meeting with the coaches as much as I can and it's starting to show on the field. A lot of guys are coming in and things are falling into place."

Paus' attitude appears to be catching on with the rest of the team. "I think the whole mentality this off-season is that we have to get bigger, faster and stronger. We have to get mentally tough and come together as a team. This off-season has been completely different for me because I'm now the older guy at my position. I've taken more of a leader-role, and I feel good about that. That's one thing I want to become - a leader. It's what we need, it's good for the team and I feel more comfortable about taking on that role because I'm older."

But this off-season hasn't been without its peculiarities. For one thing, his first quarterback coach at Washington (Steve Axman) is now coaching receivers. It's been a little odd for Casey to get used to, but he sees nothing but benefits in bringing Ax back in the fold.

"We've been watching film and it's kind of hard watching him talk to the receivers because I'm used to having him talk to me," said Paus. "But at the same time he's a great coach and has a lot of quarterback knowledge and it's great having two quarterback minds around. I think it's going to help the position and the offense as a whole having a quarterback mentality coaching the receivers. That way we'll be on the same page."

And that means the only paus(e) the dawgs will be dealing with this spring is the one wearing number 15.

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