Coach's Corner

Of the practices I've attended this spring, I put the most emphasis on the ones in pads because I like the hitting, blocking, and tackling. Those are the essence of the game.

Obviously, you notice the skill position players because of their speed, grace, and hand-eye coordination.

I, like everyone else, am very intrigued with the competition at quarterback. I am also convinced after watching them all throw, run, and lead, that no one has effectively made a move to be named the starter. I don't believe that that decision will be made until after this spring, summer school, and fall camps are completed. It is that close, and when Matt Tuiasosopo joins the team, he too may gain some consideration. Don't be surprised to see him in the middle of the competition. The Huskies are definitely going to be running the option, which will require a playmaker at quarterback who can both run and pass and skillfully pitch on the option.

Because of that, I believe that they are liable to use more than one, perhaps more than two quarterbacks, next fall. You need three quarterbacks to make it thru a season and two others to run scout teams for the defense.

The three scholarship players, junior Casey Paus, sophomore Isaiah Stanback, and red-shirt transfer freshmen Carl Bonnell, are locked in a tight battle for the number one QB spot. It's really a matter of getting enough reps for each to do the proper evaluation. The test they face is two-fold in that each has to handle the number one offense as well as running for their lives behind the number two offensive line.

Because of loyalty and seniority, Casey Paus will be number one this fall. The other two guys will have to beat him out if they want the start. Paus has great leadership skills that are obvious by the way he conducts himself both on and off the field. He has made the commitment to his team and deserves to be considered as the starter because he has been there the longest and he is the oldest. However, he hasn't separated himself enough from the others to lock the job down yet.

Talent wise, Paus may trail the other two. Both Stanback and Bonnell are faster and better runners. Casey is the biggest and weighs the most. He also has the slowest delivery of all three and although he throws the long ball well, he has not hit that many long bombs this spring.

Stanback is probably the best athlete of the three but I think he looks rushed. He throws well but hasn't been doing it while on the run and that is his supposed to be his strong suit. He can really run and can make things happen when he breaks down the secondary with his 4.4 speed. Still, he has been inconsistent and hasn't made that big break away run this spring. I think when they let the quarterbacks go "live" that we will get a better chance so see what Stanback and Bonnell can do outside the pocket.

The dark horse in this race is definitely Carl Bonnell. Anyone will tell you he was really good down on the scout team this year. I think that really helps the development of a QB. Doing scout team duty vs. the first two defenses can really bring you up to speed, so to speak. Things happen so quickly that it actually really helps young quarterbacks in their improvement. Paus hasn't really spent much time as a scout teamer. Stanback did until they moved him to receiver and brought him back up with the offense.

Bonnell has the best pitch on the option of the three in terms of putting it out there softly for the running backs. He has done it the most of the three and his winning background at Kentwood speaks to his leadership. Bonnell also has shown to have a very strong arm, although he is not comfortable with the receivers - yet. He has also had considerable problems getting to know and getting comfortable with the different centers.

The depth issue on the offensive line really hurts the QB competition. The number of linemen that didn't make it into the program combined with the high number of guys who have departed the program has created a real mess. Of the 10 tough questions that are asked of Husky recruits now, the most emphasis has to be on the question of, "Will he ever quit?"

The quarterback competition is influenced by the line situation. It is almost impossible to give all three quarterbacks reps with the number one offense. There is barely a number two offensive line, so scrimmages have been difficult at best.

Assistant coaches John Pettis and Steve Axman along with Gilbs himself are spending an extra amount of time just evaluating all three quarterbacks. They are not going to make a mistake at such a key and critical position. The three quarterbacks will stay in competition from now until well into fall camp. One of the three is going to make a move but don't expect that the guy who opens the season as the number one will close it.

And, don't be surprised to see Matt Tuiasosopo in the mix. What they are now asking the quarterback to do is completely different than what Cody Pickett was asked to do. I would be totally surprised if they name a quarterback at the end of spring, particularly when Tui has not even been evaluated yet. The other three seem to be struggling a bid and none have separated themselves.

Unless one has a fantastic spring game, look for the running backs to put on the show and then wait until fall after the second scrimmage or so. That's the way I see it shaping up as of today.

And of course, that could change.

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