Still stinging from 2017, the Washington Football team running game is critical for team to achieve 2018 Pac-12 title
The Washington Football team did not defend the Pac-12 Title as hoped for in 2017. Ultimately, that resulted in a less-than hoped for ending to last season, punctuated by the Fiesta Bowl loss to Penn State University. Still, the team enters the 2018 season with plenty of incentive to do better. Added to that, that same team has plenty of lessons to learn from in the losses from last season. Adversity is a great teacher.
One common theme in the regular season losses last year was the lack of commitment to the running game last year. In crucial games, both at Arizona State University and at Stanford, the Washington Huskies failed to rely upon the most dependable aspect of their offense: rushing the ball. In both losses, running back Myles Gaskin had excellent runs. The team simply did not rush enough.
This season, the same Washington Football team must rededicate themselves to a running game that does not let them down. Led by senior running back Myles Gaskin, the team has the talent to lean heavily on the ground and pound game. While not as flashy as a high powered passing game, running the ball is crucial in close games where keeping a defense fresh is imperative.
Entering his sophomore season, the Huskies can expect significant contribution from RB Salvon Ahmed. The backfield will be reinforced by incoming freshmen Trey Lowe, Richard Newton, and walk-on RB Jamyn Patu who brings significant excitement to the team.
Ground and pound
The past three seasons, the Huskies have gained over 2000 yards on the ground. But the high point was 2016, where the team gained over 2,700 yards rushing. While Gaskin has consistently put up over 1,300 yards per season, it was Lavon Coleman‘s 852 yards on the ground which boosted Washington to the best in Coach Petersen’s tenure.
When the team needed to reach down deep for a desperately needed win against cross-state rival Washington State, the team turned to the running game. In response, Myles Gaskin took over that game. Likewise, the defense performed one of their best games of the season.
Now, Coach Petersen must find a way to sustain Gaskin’s lead role in the backfield, while finding the right blend to gain ground yardage with other rushers. With the current talent on the team, that is not a pie-in-the-sky goal. In fact, the Washington backfield could prove to be one of the best running games in the nation this season.
It’s not to attract the attention for national rankings. A solid running game is not even about padding the stats of the running backs. It comes down to controlling the ball, the tempo, and the game. Right now, the Huskies need to refocus their offense to the running game. Doing that not only commands the game clock, but it keeps the defense fresh all season long.
After all, winning the Pac-12 championship is not about possessing the best offense. It’s about fielding the best team. This season, that team should be the Washington Huskies.