Washington QB Stanback (foot) likely done for season

Updated: October 17, 2006, 12:17 AM ET
Associated Press

SEATTLE -- Isaiah Stanback's career at Washington appears to be over.

The do-everything senior quarterback largely responsible for Washington's resurgent season will have surgery Tuesday on his injured right foot and is expected to miss the rest of the season, coach Tyrone Willingham announced on his radio show late Monday afternoon.

Stanback was originally diagnosed with a sprained right foot after he was hurt in the fourth quarter of last Saturday's 27-17 loss to Oregon State. Additional tests Monday revealed an injury to the Lisfranc joint in Stanback's foot, requiring surgery.

"It's unfortunate but that's the game," Willingham said on his radio show. "The one thing we want to make sure of is that Isaiah's OK."

Willingham added that surgery was needed to make sure the injury healed correctly. According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, the Lisfranc joint is on the top of the foot. Injuries to the joint are often mistaken for sprains, when in fact a small fracture or dislocation has occurred, although Washington officials said there was no fracture.

Stanback will have screws and most likely a small plate put into his foot to stabilize the bones. Recovery after surgery often means limited weight bearing on the foot for six to eight weeks, and Willingham indicated that even if Washington made a bowl game, Stanback wouldn't be able to return.

"My focus is on doing whatever it takes to get healthy and come back 100 percent," Stanback said in a statement.

Stanback spent the last two days moving around on crutches with his foot in a protective boot. Willingham said Stanback should be able to play football in the future.

"There is no question you miss his presence on the field and that leadership has more impact because he does do things on the field," Willingham said. "We've got to get guys to step up."

The injury is the first major setback for the 4-3 Huskies, who have lost consecutive games for the first time this season. Still, they're just two wins shy of becoming bowl eligible -- the team's stated goal since August.

Now, the responsibility for getting to six victories falls to junior Carl Bonnell, who will make his third career start on Saturday at No. 11 California. Johnny DuRocher will be his backup and highly touted freshman Jake Locker is expected to make the trip and get more snaps in practice this week.

"Isaiah going down is an enormous blow to this team," Bonnell said. "But it's been my job this entire time that when he goes down to get in there, step it up and score some points."

Stanback was injured scrambling early in the fourth quarter, and television replays showed his right foot and ankle turning outward as he went to plant. He was down on the field for about five minutes and helped to the sideline, and was later taken to the locker room on a cart.

Stanback scored both Washington touchdowns Saturday on short runs, and threw for 162 yards before his injury.

In seven games, Stanback threw for 1,325 yards and 10 touchdowns, while running for another 350 yards and four scores. Stanback played well in each of Washington's four wins and nearly directed a last-second comeback in a 26-20 loss at Southern California.

"I don't know if you can fill Isaiah's shoes. He by far took over the leadership role on this team a long time ago," Bonnell said. "I just have to go out there and perform. We have some big challenges left."

Questioned during most of last season, Stanback took hold of the starting quarterback role with an outstanding performance during spring practice, to the point where Washington offensive coordinator Tim Lappano remodeled the Huskies' offense around Stanback's talents.

Last week, Lappano said the Huskies are now recruiting quarterbacks who have similar attributes to Stanback.

Bonnell's style is comparable to Stanback, but without as much pure running speed. He struggled in relief of Stanback on Saturday, completing just 2-of-6 passes for 10 yards. Bonnell has played in three games this season and threw a touchdown pass late at Oklahoma.

Locker, the heralded freshman, will continue to wait on the sidelines. The preference among Washington coaches has been to redshirt Locker, and Willingham was peppered with questions on Monday about his handling of Locker.

"We will see what is in the best interest of the player and the best interest of the team," Willingham said.

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press