Husky Football: Is Bishop Sankey the Man?


As I witnessed the Huskies play, and eventually beat, Stanford on Thursday, the only thing more surprising than the outright dominant defense was the run game that was quickly established and maintained by Bishop Sankey. And no, I’m not talking about the 61 yard touchdown run, though that was perhaps the most important play of the game, I’m talking about the way that the sophomore from Spokane was able to hit the hole and grind out 4, 5, or 6 yards when it looked like nothing was there. That, coupled with the momentum-shifting score to end the 3rd quarter, resulted in a final stat line of 20 carries for 144 yards and a touchdown.

Heading into this game, there was no reason to expect that sort of physical, dependable performance from Sankey. He was nondescript against San Diego State, and after an ACL injury to Jesse Callier left him to carry the load against LSU, he carried 8 times for 16 yards before the run game was completely abandoned in the 2nd half. If you had asked me, or pretty much anyone, after that game if Bishop Sankey would average over 7 yards a carry against Stanford, I would have said no. I would have put money on it.

Sept 27, 2012; Seattle, WA, USA; Washington Huskies running back Bishop Sankey (25) rushes against the Stanford Cardinal during the second half at CenturyLink Field. Washington defeated Stanford, 17-13. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-US PRESSWIRE

Even after a 103 yard, 2 touchdown game against Portland State, I was only moderately more optimistic. I mean, it was Portland State. I remember writing after that game that while the stellar performance certainly couldn’t hurt Sankey’s chances of emerging as a feature back, it didn’t necessarily indicate anything major. 103 yards against an FCS opponent doesn’t usually equal 144 yards against Stanford.

I don’t mean to say that I had given up on him. I certainly hadn’t. But as true sophomore weighing only 200 pounds, Sankey didn’t look physically ready to carry the football 20-25 times a game, especially behind an offensive line that was not doing him any favors.

Well, it looks like I was wrong. It is definitely too early to crown Sankey as Chris Polk II, one game is an awfully small body of work with which to evaluate a player, but it sure seems that if he can run that well, behind this offensive line, against Stanford, he should be able to run against pretty much anyone in the Pac-12.

I know the wait and see attitude gets a bit old, but for now, be excited, and be optimistic, and if Sankey carries the ball 20-25 times for over 100 yards, or at least somewhere in that neighborhood, against an increasingly stout Oregon defense, then I believe we will know for sure that the Washington Huskies have found their number one back for the foreseeable future. Even now, his season stat line of 64 carries for 329 yards and 4 touchdowns puts him on pace for 987 yards and 12 touchdowns in the regular season. Assuming Bishop gets at least 13 yards in a bowl game the Huskies will almost certainly take part in, that means Sankey is on pace for a thousand yard season, and that’s counting the atrocious LSU game that still figures heavily into those projections.

If you really guessed at the start of the season that the Huskies would have a 1,000 yard rusher, and that it wouldn’t be Jesse Callier, then I commend you, as you predicted what I certainly did not.