Listening to Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh this week, it's obvious that he just loves starting quarterback Tavita Pritchard, the sophomore from Clover Park. I mean, loves him beyond his stats, loves him even beyond that victory over USC. Harbaugh is a former quarterback himself, and he just sounds like he sees the right stuff -- quarterback right stuff -- in Pritchard.
Because of Pritchard's Tacoma background, the UW sportswriters got a conference call interview with him Tuesday. And, I gotta say it's hard not to like him (although not everyone reading a Husky blog will agree, because Pritchard is no fan of the Huskies).
Anyway, here are some of his comments beyond what will appear in my story in the Wednesday paper:
On how his life has changed since beating USC:
I'm the starter now, but I like to think that I always prepared like the starter so not a whole lot has changed in football except I'm on a conference call with some newspapers right now, which I wouldn't have been otherwise. As far as regular life, I guess it hasn't changed too much. I get recognized a little bit more, but other than that it's been pretty normal.
On how the campus has changed since beating USC:
People are starting to get excited about football again. I think we gave them a reason when we went down to the (LA) Coliseum and came back with a win. I don't know if you guys heard, but there was a big group waiting for us. People on campus are a lot more excited. The confidence on the team, it's been a tremendous building block for us, knowing that we can compete with the best and go out every week and win ball games.
On if opponents take Stanford more seriously now:
I would say they probably have. I think we were kind of looked at as a doormat for a while these past couple of years. I think we might have opened some eyes when we got a win in the Coliseum. A lot of people think we don't have the depth or the talent that a lot of Pac-10 schools have, but that's not the case. We have some tremendous athletes down here, some tremendous football players, and we feel like we can compete with anybody.
On why Stanford is improved:
I think we've really been growing up as a team. We have sort of a younger team last year – we had some vets, but as a whole I think we were pretty young and we're just starting to grow up and learning how to win.
On growing up a Husky-hater:
Honestly, My Uncle Jack (Thompson) went to Washington State, as did my dad. To make a long story short, I grew up hating the Huskies. I was a big Cougars fan, I made a lot of trips to Pullman. I remember when I was a kid my dad wouldn't allow purple and gold in the house. When my college recruitment came around I wasn't recruited that much by Washington State, which opened the door a little bit for Washington, so I did look at them – I took some unofficials up there. I got recruited by Coach Willingham a little bit at Notre Dame and then talked to the staff a little bit when he got to Washington. But I think by that time I might have been committed to Stanford already, so the recruitment was pretty much over at that point.
On coach Harbaugh:
Obviously he had a long career in the NFL and in college – a successful one. For the obvious one would be he brings a tremendous knowledge for the game. But he also brings passion and intensity that carries over to the team. We attack every day, whether it be practice or a game, with intensity and a work ethic.
On his career since leaving Clover Park:
It's been a lot of fun so far. It's been a tremendous experience thus far – I hope it continues. I didn't have any kind of time frame. I just came down here ready to work hard to earn every minute. It's finally here and I'm having a blast.
On the UW game:
I'm a Stanford guy through and through now ... most of my Cougars ties are pretty much cut. I kind of look at this as just another Pac-10 game, keeping in mind that I did grow up with a little rivalry with the Huskies. I remember a lot of those teams. I remember a lot of those Apple Cups – I went to quite a few of them. There is a lot of history there for me, but as a quarterback I just look at this as another Pac-10 game and another step in trying to reach our ultimate goal.
On former Stanford starter T.C. Ostrander:
First of all, T.C. is a good friend of mine and I think very highly of him as a quarterback and as a person. It was kind of a different situation how it went down. It was kind of a freak accident that happened to him. But at the same time, this is something that I worked for and prepared for and I feel like I'm ready for. And I'm going to continue to do my job and prepare each week as the starting quarterback.
On his calls home:
I've got to talk to Mom, because it's Mom obviously. I talk to my dad quite a bit, he's a coach at Clover Park, so I get the update on Clover Park. And my little brother is a freshman this year on the football team – he's was the starting quarterback – so I talk to him as well and see how his season's going. (talks to jack three or four times a week, advice this week is to beat the huskies)
On advice for his brother:
I didn't even start as a freshman. That's an incredible amount of pressure for a kid that age, right out of middle school. I had the opportunity during our bye week to go up for a game. They played Franklin Pierce – I don't know if you guys know it, but they're a pretty good football team. he's still learning a lot. He's learning how to play at the next level. But I tried to give him as much advice as I could, as much as I could remember from playing high school ball. And my dad does a really good job – he's the offensive coordinator. I try to give him my input on the offensive calls.
On working at wide receiver last season:
We had quite a few injuries last year at the wide receiver position. Coach came to me one day and said we need some bodies there and to maybe move over and play an emergency role. I already knew the offense, just maybe from a different perspective. And so they put me over there. It was kind of refreshing to play a different spot after playing quarterback since third grade. It was fun for a little while and then I was ready to go back.
On the UW defense:
Very athletic. I knew a lot of the guys – not personally, but I knew their names from high school. A lot of the guys are from Washington. I know what they're capable of. Tremendously talented. We don't look at this as an opportunity to get tons of yards. We look at this as another Pac-10 game. We feel like they're a team similar to ours, they're beginning to learn how to win as a team. They're fairly young, their quarterback as well, and they're learning how to win in all three phases. I think there are a lot of similarities.
On classes at Stanford:I'm studying communication. Maybe I'll be one of you guys someday. I haven't decided what to do with that. I'm taking a journalism class right now, so that will be interesting. School is going well.