Stanback done with double-duty

You can't say Isaiah Stanback isn't a team player. The 6-3, 208 sophomore-to-be quarterback took one for his teammates and decided he could best be utilized in 2003 as a receiver. He caught 10 passes for 143 yards, with a long of 41. He'll look back on those stats with a bit of a grin on his face, as he'll most likely never see those numbers again. He'll be throwing the passes from now on instead of catching them.

"I'm done with that now," Stanback told about his days as a receiver. "That was just to help out the team, but now it's between me, Casey (Paus) and Carl (Bonnell). It's all just quarterback now."

"He wasn't going to be the quarterback last year, so it was either play another position or stand next to me," Gilbertson said when asked about Isaiah's position switch last year. "And with someone that talented, I wanted to get him on the field. It's a whole new game now. The job is up for grabs. He's put in a great winter of working and he's a gifted kid. So now it's time for him to concentrate and use those skills and talent to be a good quarterback."

"I think this is the best one since I've been here," Stanback said about his off-season conditioning, one that saw him run consistent sub-4.5 times. "It seems like everyone has gotten a lot stronger and faster. Pete (Kaligis) and Steve (Emtman), as they get more information, they transfer it on to us, so we're getting better.

"Last season I was at 195, so I've done a good job of putting on weight and maintaining my speed."

Now that it's back to calling plays and making reads from the pocket, Stanback was candid about his development and the areas he needs to improve upon. "For myself, I need to get better at everything," he said. "I haven't been playing football for that long, so anything I can get I take in. Physically and mentally, I'm just trying to learn.

"The more reps I can get, but better I can get. It's one thing to watch tape, but it's a different thing when you're trying to execute."

Gilbertson has only seen Isaiah run the offense for a few days this spring, but is excited by what he sees.

"I think he's 180 degrees better and he can still improve," Gilbertson said. "I think there are some glitches in his motion that can be worked out. I think he can be a lot smoother as a thrower. But he has improved a lot. He's spent a lot of time on it and it's paid off.

"His presence in the huddle, his ability to communicate the offense, take the call, get it in the huddle and get it verbalized - get on the line of scrimmage ... he's just better in a lot of ways."

One person Isaiah is going to lean on a little bit besides quarterbacks coach John Pettas is his former QB coach Steve Axman. Ax is back this year after a season as UCLA's offensive coordinator, and while his main responsibility will be coaching the receivers, he'll have his eye on the signal-callers, providing input when needed.

"It was weird at first, but he knows our offense so it's going to be a good thing for both the quarterbacks and the receivers," Stanback said of seeing his former coach teaching at another position.

It's a bit of a reversal, but it's one that suits Isaiah just fine. He's back at quarterback, and to him that's all that matters.

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