A Visit with Husky QB Johnny DuRocher

Wearing a t-shirt and shorts and sipping a Coke, a relaxed-looking Johnny DuRocher paused and smiled. I had just asked him how his Washington teammates have received him since his much-publicized transfer from Oregon. "I'm thankful for it," he said. "I'm thankful that everybody has kind of opened up and took me in. I really haven't had any jokes about the Ducks or anything like that, which is good. You know, I was really expecting to get a lot of them. But everybody kind of opened up."

It was last winter that I interviewed DuRocher about his transfer to the University of Washington, after dealing with behind-the-scenes feuds with Oregon Head Coach Mike Bellotti. During that interview, there was one point where DuRocher spoke for twenty minutes in describing his experiences - off-the-record. When he was done, his voice was full of angst and he was perspiring. He went on to state on how no one was going to outwork him in terms of practice and preparation. This past week, I asked DuRocher how he viewed his development since that interview.

"I would just say overall, I've been working on my footwork, keeping the ball high," DuRocher told Dawgman.com. "I was working hard to try to make this stuff into muscle memory. It's a slow process to try to get where you want to get fundamentally. It's not something that you can pick up in a month. It's something you got to keep repping and do over and over. I'm still in the process of getting where I want to be. I'm pretty happy with the work I've put in during the winter and summer. I feel pretty good about where I'm at right now."

And how was it working out with the wide receivers this summer?

"We made a point to working out a lot," he said, chuckling. "The wide receivers wanted to catch so many balls, sometimes it came to a point where I said to them, I just can't throw any more. So then they'd get on the Juggs machine and keep working. We had a good summer together, and it will carry over to the season."

And now with fall camp about half over, I asked DuRocher if anything has surprised him thus far.

"The thing that shocks most of us is the lack of sleep," he said. "We're not really prepared for it coming out of summer. Some of us went to school, some of us didn't. During the summer, school's not starting until 10:00 or 11:00 AM or whatever (so people can sleep in). I think it's the lack of sleep that takes getting used to. But I think now, by around day ten of camp, we're falling into a routine, and you see a lot less guys taking naps on the locker room floor than days two and three.

"At the end of the day, when we get done with meetings around 10 PM, and you get back to the dorms, you want to have some free time to hang out with your buddies, or whatever. But you do fall right to sleep. I don't think the bigger guys (lineman) are used to sleeping on twin beds. It's rough on them, but you just kind of grind it out."

But isn't DuRocher 6'4"?

"Well, I feel a little better than those guys. My feet hang off the bed a little bit. But the difference is, when I roll around I'm not going to fall off."

Although Husky coach Tyrone Willingham won't publicly acknowledge it, the prevailing speculation is that DuRocher and Isaiah Stanback are the two men competing for the starting quarterback job. I asked DuRocher how his working relationship is with Stanback.

"Isaiah is a good player," he said. "We play the position differently. He has the ability to take off and make things happen with his feet, and that's something I admire in him. I think the biggest thing where we've helped each other is in the meetings, talking over things. You know, on the sideline, when Casey or Carl is getting in there, Isaiah and I are talking over things. Especially me, I like to talk. I like to see what he saw, and tell him this is what I thought. That's the biggest thing, that we have this open communication, which I think really helps."

In conclusion, I asked DuRocher how to describe how the team is responding in practice.

"Coach Willingham's structure is making a difference, we've got a handle on what we're doing," he said. "And the split practices, it's really good because everyone is getting a lot of reps. It's almost like having two-a-days. So I think when the first game comes, we're going to be really sharp.

"It's the discipline and preparation," he said. "Everything we're doing in practice has a purpose. We're not out there doing anything that isn't going to come up in a game. Especially team situations, we've got the sticks out there every day. We're working situations-- that kind of stuff is really going to help. Mentally, we're all into it. Even if we're not in there getting the rep, we're into it mentally. OK, it's 3rd and 6 we gotta make sure we get to the sticks on this route. Stuff like that. When you're constantly thinking like that, and then when the game comes, it's becomes second nature.

"There are so many people on this team that are going to shock people," he said. "A lot of people right now are down on us, which is good, I think that's the way we like it right now. But I mean, you could go through a long list of guys who have stepped up and played well in camp.

"We just got to keep it going."

Johnny DuRocher Scout.com Profile

Derek Johnson can be reached at midnightjazz@msn.com

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