SEATTLE — A major reason that Casey Paus is the starting quarterback for the University of Washington is because of his ability to avoid the damaging screw-up.
That’s the reason the coaches gave him the keys to the car. He won’t drive it into a lamppost. He won’t over-rev the engine. The trust factor is undeniable.
After a great battle with Isaiah Stanback and Carl Bonnell, Paus let his experience guide him into the driver’s seat, even after a sluggish spring and early preseason practice in which both Bonnell and Stanback seemed viable alternatives.
In the end, however, Paus fought them off because he mastered the offense. Maybe he wasn’t spectacular; maybe he wasn’t clearly The Guy until eight days before the Huskies open Sunday against Fresno State.
But he didn’t make mistakes. Or he did so less often than the competition.
“The whole camp, Casey was really consistent,” offensive coordinator John Pettas said. “He made the plays and did the right things.”
Think that’s not important? Think both Stanback and Bonnell, with apparently unlimited upsides and seemingly greater potential for The Big Play, deserve it more than Paus?
That’s what head coach Keith Gilbertson said when asked what he wants out of his offense:
“What we hope to do is be good with the football, not leaving it lying around on the ground, throw interceptions, things that will get you in trouble, particularly early in the game,” Gilbertson said. “We want to be careful with the football and not get too ahead of ourselves.”
It’s pretty simple. Paus is making his first start in front of 70,000 home fans against a team that certainly will hang a target onto his backside. The Bulldogs, who have a veteran defensive group, figure to disguise their schemes, blitz and try to get into Paus’ head.
Starting tight end Joe Toledo may not play Sunday because of a lingering groin injury. Toledo missed most of 2003 with a back injury, but Gilbertson said team doctors don’t believe the injuries are related. Jon Lyon will start in Toledo’s place, backed up by Dash Crutchley.
•Gilbertson said true freshman Trenton Tuiasosopo, a linebacker from Mariner High School, may see playing time on special teams Sunday. Gilbertson added that linebacker Dan Howell, defensive tackle Jordan White-Frisbee, defensive end Greyson Gunheim and safety Darin Harris also may play against the Bulldogs.
•Sophomore wide receiver Jordan Slye, who started three games last season, will miss the season because he is academically ineligible. He may return in the spring.
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