Pettas Looks Ahead

Don't be too envious of Washington Quarterbacks Coach John Pettas right now. Yes, he's doing what he loves, he gets to work outside in beautiful Husky Stadium, and he doesn't have to wear a button-down shirt and tie to work. But in a week or so, Pettas will most likely be forced into making a decision that would make even the strongest stomachs churn acid like a waterwheel.

Pettas, along with Washington Head Coach Keith Gilbertson and most likely input from current UW coach Steve Axman, will have to pick a quarterback. Casey Paus, Isaiah Stanback and Carl Bonnell are all in the running, the same as it was when the team finished their spring football campaign. And nothing has changed. The coaches are doing what they can to encourage one to separate himself from the pack, to make their ultimate decision a moot one. The chances of that happening appear to be slim.

"We already had a meeting," Pettas told Thursday. "We told them where we are at, what we are doing and what our objective is. I told them right out that we are going to continue to go just like we did in the springtime. We are going to rotate the three of them, let 'em battle it out. I kind of left it like it was at the end of spring. The last week of spring ball was really good. They all competed. They didn't separate from each other, but everything was still done in a good way. They were all doing pretty well. So I told them that I want them to make it as hard as they can - meaning don't make it easy on the others. Don't fall back and give in. Play hard and make it a tough decision for us, because we are going to have to pick one. Eventually we are going to have to do it, and I expect when that day comes that they continue to compete. Like any position out there, you are one step away from being the starter the next week if someone gets hurt. And they understand that. They know. They are going to go out there, compete, and we'll take it from there."

The most intriguing pick of the three right now is also the youngest - Carl Bonnell. The redshirt frosh from Kentwood High School appears ready to take control with a style of play that suits Gilbertson's 'Husky Offense'. "Whoever plays the best will be the starter," Pettas said, matter-of-factly. "Everybody points to him (Bonnell) because - like Gilby says - he has the best of both worlds between Casey and Isaiah. He throws well like Casey and he runs well like Isaiah. "Because he was the youngest, he probably showed the most improvement (in the spring), but that also was probably because he had further to go than the other two. So he gives us some enthusiasm, but at the end of the spring Isaiah was playing really well, as was Casey. Casey is so steady that I think people forget that he's still doing well. Maybe it's because the improvement doesn't show as much with him as the up and downs of the other kids."

So, in a deja-vu scenario that would make Yogi Berra proud, the three quarterbacks are going to strap their helmets on for another camp with everything on the line. "We are going to let them all play," Pettas said. "They will get equal reps at Evergreen. We will rotate them 1-2-3 like we did in the springtime and we will keep track of every snap. I told them that we will be evaluating every single snap - every snap of skelly, every snap of individual, every snap of team - we are going to evaluate and we will make our decision based on what we feel is best for the team. And like Gilby said, that might mean that we even play two if we have to. We're pretty open about it and all we can do is let them go and do the best we can.

"Someone will emerge. Right now, I think we could pick any one of them and do well with them. We're really pleased with the way they ended up spring, and we're really comfortable with any one of them. That's good for us. Like I told them, 'Keep it up. Make it really hard on me to pick a guy. I want all of you to do so well that's it's going to be hard. I feel confident in all of their abilities right now."

Gilbertson said Thursday during his press conference that if one of the quarterbacks hadn't made a clear-cut move, one would be selected roughly a day or so before the Fresno State game week preparations are set to begin. "Once we get into game-week preparation, the starter usually gets his 70 percent (of the reps)," Pettas said. "In our case, we might split it up differently because of our backups. I can't judge right now, but I wouldn't be surprised if a couple or all three play at some point during the season. I really like all of them."

Which will make his decision even tougher than it is already going to be.

John Pettas Scout Profile Top Stories