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November 21, 2006

Willingham and Stanback look back and ahead

While things did not quite turn out the way they had hoped when the season started 4-1, the Huskies are still satisfied with how they finished the football season and looking forward to next year.

With the past three months in the rear view mirror, Washington is now focused on the game against Syracuse that will kick off the 2007 season. But the time in between is not going to be easy, as some key players are graduating and a lot of returning Huskies lack their experience.

One of those key returnees is freshman Jake Locker. While coach Tyrone Willingham did not want to call him the savior of the program, he had plenty of praise to dish on the young signal-caller.

"Like any other position, it takes time to develop and grow," he said. "It will be interesting to see just how exactly this turns out."

Senior Isaiah Stanback said that Locker has a ton of opportunity to develop.

"Jake is going to be way better than me because of his talent and he has the same coaches," he said. "The only shortcut is having the same coaches, that's something I wish I could have had. I've been helping him out a lot the last couple of weeks."

Stanback has also noticed something about the rest of the freshmen that will help the UW out in the future.

"The coaches did a really good job recruiting these guys," he said. "They always work hard and I never hear them complain. They set the standard and they know what they're supposed to do and they do it."

But that will not stop the coaches from getting out on the recruiting trail. Whether you are talking about offense, defense or special teams the Huskies have holes to fill everywhere.

However, there is one spot that stands out over the rest.

"We need to see if we can find a way to bolster our corner position," Willingham said. "We need to find someone who can step at [that] spot."

The UW's inability to achieve its goal of reaching a bowl game, while a negative in itself, does not detract from the good that happened this year, Willingham said.

"I try to rejoice at all of our positives," he said. "But we still didn't reach the bottom like I thought we could reach."

And even so, the goal may be different next season.

With his career finally over after last Saturday's 35-32 victory over Washington State, Stanback has no choice to look forward. And what he has to look forward to is a career in the NFL.

"I think if God gives me an opportunity, I will take advantage of it," he said. "The doctors say in June I could be back to full strength."

When asked whether he will get an opportunity, he stated confidently "I'm gonna get a shot."

On a sadder note, the career of Husky quarterback Johnny DuRocher appears to be over after the discovery of a benign brain tumor last week. In an MRI taken after suffering concussion against Stanford two weeks ago, the tumor was found.

While it is believed to be non-cancerous, it has been speculated that it will most likely end his football career.





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