Quarterbacks talk about battle

It's a strange situation. Just when the Washington football program is about to climb back up the ladder and into the daylight of respectability, a black cat walks past. The cat didn't walk UNDER the ladder, just close enough to be considered dangerous.

The 'black cat' in question was the announcement Tuesday that sophomore transfer Johnny DuRocher would have to sit out until the Notre Dame game because of a detail in the NCAA bylaws that was lost in translation between the UW compliance department and their football program. No violations occurred, no extra eligibility put into jeopardy, but the timing of the announcement certainly raised eyebrows.

"I found out about 11 o'clock yesterday," said DuRocher. "I was shocked and disappointed."

What's even worse is that the DuRocher news trumped what would have normally been a joyous day at Montlake, as Isaiah Stanback was named by UW Head Coach Tyrone Willingham as the Huskies' starter against Air Force.

"He (Willingham) told us that when he made the decision he would let us know first," Stanback said of his announcement. "So he let us know and then he told the team. That was it."

Still, the pall of the news that DuRocher having to sit out games against Air Force, California and Idaho effectively put the cork back in the champagne. "It's unfortunate," said Stanback. "We need Johnny on our team. I kind of look at it as an injury. He's out for three weeks, so let's see what we can do. It's hard though because he's put in his work. I know he's frustrated, but he also knows that you can't get frustrated about something you can't change."

"I'm not taking it as a setback," added DuRocher. "I'm taking it as a learning possibility. I'm going to take the next three weeks and dive right into game-planning, do whatever I can. It could have been a lot worse. It could have meant forfeiting a game and it could have cost me a year of eligibility."

But for now, the Huskymobile has Stanback at the wheel, and in sharp contrast to 2004, he won't get his license revoked after a couple of fender-benders. "Last year it was more like week-to-week," said Stanback of his status directing the team under former UW Head Coach Keith Gilbertson. "This year it's more solidified.

"It helps a lot. To know that you're going to be able to make mistakes - that's how you learn - to know that you have the coach's confidence, it's good."

And now that Stanback has the keys, he's going to keep listening to everybody around him to make sure his learning curve stays high. I pick up something from all the quarterbacks we have - Casey (Paus) Johnny (DuRocher), Carl (Bonnell), Felix (Sweetman)," he said. "I'm very observant. I'm trying to turn my weakness into a strength. Like with Casey, he works really hard. I've learned a lot about the mental aspect of the game from Casey. He prepares himself so well for games."

And what will Johnny tell him going into this Saturday's game against the Falcons? "I don't know if I can give Isaiah any kind of advice, he's got more experience than I do," said DuRocher with a smile.

Meanwhile, the quarterback that ended up second in the pre-season quarterback battle will continue to bide his time and try and turn this negative upside-down.

"There's still a lot of things that I can do," said DuRocher. "I'll watch a lot of tape and even though I won't be able to do it with the team, I'll find time to get my work in.

"I'd rather be here with three years of eligibility missing three games than only be here with two."

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