Dawgman Diary - Isaiah Stanback

Even though the Huskies improved on their 2004 record, the 2005 version finished well below the expectations of fans, coaches and the players. Junior QB Isaiah Stanback is the most visible player on the team and on Monday he met with the press and offered no excuses for the many missed opportunities the team had during the season that were magnified in last weekend's loss in the Apple Cup.

"There's throws that I didn't make," Stanback said shaking his head. "There was one series where I got hit on my arm and I couldn't really feel my pinky that much so it was hard to grip the ball and my balls tailed off on me. There's no excuse for that.

"There's throws I missed. There were two balls I missed to (Anthony) Russo that would have been touchdowns – one would have been called back because we had a holding call or something – but one earlier in the game I just overthrew him. That's what I'm going to work on this offseason and make sure they won't happen again next year."

Stanback, who was a self-admitted poor student of the game heading into last year, seems to have found his nitch with offensive coordinator Tim Lappano. He admitted that studying film has made a big difference in his preparation and expects to work on many of the things he did wrong mechanically during the season to iron out the kinks.

"(The coaches) let me know," Stanback said about his mechanical issues. "But it's up to me as the player to make the correction. They can only tell me what to do.

"I made corrections in practice and stuff like that, but unless you rep it so much that it becomes just normal in what you do, you're going to resort to your old ways. When it came game time and I got under pressure and things like that happened and I saw (Russo) open and threw it my ball came out flat. I'm going to take care of that in the offseason so that I throw it the same all the time, so when that happens again there will be enough air under the ball so he can run underneath and catch it and we can score.

"We don't need the whole team to rep that kind of stuff. I can go out there with my receivers right now and throw routes. There are things you can do when coaches aren't around. That's where you get a lot of your work in anyway."

Stanback has freakish athletic ability. He has a cannon for an arm, a muscular frame and speed that would make running backs, cornerbacks and wide receivers jealous. During the Washington State game, Stanback said there were a couple plays he was nearly able to make with his feet that could have changed the entire complexion of the game.

"They just, there were a couple plays, I would say three plays, where somebody grabbed my ankle right as I was starting to hit the hole and if they hadn't grabbed my ankle they would have been touchdowns," Stanback said.

"There were a couple plays where I saw the hole and I was like ‘OK' and I was about to hit it and as soon as I hit it somebody grabbed my ankle from behind. Like I said there were two plays that if I didn't get my ankle grabbed from behind those would have been like 60-yard runs and it would have been a totally different story. They ran the right places at the right time. It's not so much that they shut it down, they got me right when I was about to go."

Because he has had three offensive coordinators in his four seasons as a Husky, stability hasn't been a word that Stanback has become familiar with. That all changed when head coach Tyrone Willingham hired Lappano this past winter and Stanback sees that as only a plus.

"(The offseason is) going to be more productive because we know what offense we're running," Stanback noted. "Last year at this time, we didn't know. We were just out there running routes that we ran with the last coaching staff. We didn't know what we were going to be doing so it was harder to rep and get ready for that next season because you didn't know what you were going to be doing.

"It's a lot easier now because we know what our offense is and we can go out there and run the routes and we know what routes we need to work on so it's not just ‘OK hopefully we're running the same type of routes with this next staff' we don't have to worry about that."

Willingham is entering his second full season as the Huskies head coach and while players may not have signed on for his administration when they committed several years ago, Stanback said more and more and starting to understand what it takes to be successful in Willingham's program

"It was an adjustment," Stanback admitted. "I think for the most part a lot guys have adjusted to that and it's been very positive. A lot of guys respect him and we've got to get everybody on the same page and we'll take care of some business.

"We had a year underneath him so that should help, but it's going to take time. It's not going to happen overnight. As much as you want it to or think that it can, it's not going to happen over night. It's a process like coach has said and even though he wants to win now, like all of us do, it's hard. It's going to take time and hopefully we can get it down by the start of next season."

So have all of the players bought in to Willingham's system? Stanback isn't ready to say that.

"I'm pretty sure he'll talk to us some more about that, but I think that goes more to everybody buying in to what he's trying to get to," Stanback said. "It's a process. It's a process that's not something that's going to happen overnight. You might get a couple guys on the team to buy all the way in, but until you get everybody you're not going to be where you need to be. That's something we have to do as a team this offseason. Everybody has to buy in.

"For guys that are going to be coming in next year, it's our job to make them buy in. It's not solely dependant on the coaches, it's on us. We have to make them feel comfortable. We have to let them know what to expect, so they're not just thrown into a whole new world. It's hard coming in, especially if you're going to play your first year. That's heavily weighted on us as players."

It won't be a whole new world for the Husky players next year. For the first time in four years, they will be coming into a football season with the same system and the same coaches.

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