A Visit with Husky QB Isaiah Stanback

It was in the first half of last year's frustrating loss to Oregon State that the struggling Casey Paus was pulled, and Isaiah Stanback was sent in as a replacement. As Stanback jogged onto the field to quarterback the Washington Huskies, a palpable sense of excitement rippled through the hometown crowd. Though Washington lost that game, Stanback threw for 214 yards and 2 touchdowns.

This past week, Stanback was asked if he had heard the crowd's reaction to him as he entered that game against Oregon State.

"Yes, I heard it," he said with a smile. "I love the fans. I feed off of them. The more excited they are, the more excited I get. I try to get them up; they're a big part of our atmosphere here. They're an advantage. They're a big part of us, and we need their support to win games."

There were of course, a lot of things wrong with last season's 1-10 season. Sharing time at QB, Stanback often struggled with various mistakes and poor reads. But given his amazing athletic ability and enthusiasm, many people wondered why he didn't get more of an opportunity. Stanback was asked what moment of adversity was the most difficult for him personally. He was also asked what lesson he subsequently learned from the toughest of times.

"I never question anything God does," he said, after a long and quiet pause. "Every time I get hurt, it helps me with something in my life. It was that Fresno State game. I hurt my ankle, and that ended up helping me. It helped my throwing. I couldn't put too much weight on my front leg, and it made me sit back and throw the ball more. I couldn't go forward and put too much weight on my ankle. It made me see the game from a different perspective. And then this spring, I was running track, and I strained my hamstring and I couldn't run anymore. So (in spring football practice) it forced me to stay and throw from the pocket. It was just like… It made me think of what Michael Jordan said-- that I took the worst part of my game and made it my best. That's what I had to do, and what I tried to do.

"Warren Moon helped me get through last year, helped me keep my head straight," Stanback said, when asked about the former Husky Rose Bowl MVP. "He was a mentor to me, and still is. It's not like we talk all the time. But he put himself there as a source, and I appreciate that."

Stanback also mentioned his high school coach, Luther Carr III, as someone who helped him get through last year's adversity. "When people ask me who got me here, I say God and Luther Carr III," he said. "He's at Montana right now. He was my high school coach for my sophomore and junior years, and then he was a graduate assistant here for one year. He got me recruited, got my name out there. He believed in me when I didn't believe in myself. He always there for me. And he's still there for me. I call him, he calls me. We keep in touch."

Stanback was asked in what ways he is a better quarterback now than last November.

"Personally, it's the mental aspect of the game. Knowing the offense in general. I know everything now, that's it. I've worked hard, watching film, working with coach, so I'm not thinking on the field. A lot of that comes from coach (Willingham.) He makes it a lot more clear… Well, not a lot more clear, what I mean is… He demands what he wants from you, and doesn't accept anything else. You always know what he expects, and he always demands more than what you did. That's how I am as a player. I'm never satisfied with how I did, and it's great to have that kind of guidance from a coach."

Stanback was asked what he likes best about his receiving corps.

"The good thing about our team is that we have so much talent. And the receivers-- they're finally healthy. That's what we need, it's the biggest thing. We need everybody healthy, and God willing, everyone will stay healthy."

In conclusion and in retrospect, Stanback was asked about his first start against powerhouse USC last season (Washington only trailed 10-0 at halftime, but lost 38-0.) Was that a situation that he wasn't ready for? Confidence-wise, was it a bad time to make his first start? Stanback politely bristled at the question.

"No, I'm not going to say it was bad time," he said. "It was an opportunity. I mean, it was tough, no doubt. But I'm the kind of guy that likes challenges. I wish we could go back and replay that second half. But, we see them every year."

Then he added, quietly but firmly: "And I will have my opportunity to face them again this year."

Isaiah Stanback Scout.com Profile


Derek Johnson can be reached at midnightjazz@msn.com

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