Washington Football sophomore running back Salvon Ahmed enjoyed a successful freshman season. This year, he only needs minutes carrying the football to turn some heads
When Washington Football running back Salvon Ahmed got the football, great things seemed to happen for the Huskies. After all, he averaged 6.4 yards per carry, and scored a touchdown at a rate of 4.92 percent. For a freshman playing for Washington, that is an impressive debut.
Still, it’s not quite the impact either he or the fans had hoped. Running the ball is just one part of the positive impact for the offense. To ensure playing minutes, a running back must gain yards on the ground, pick up pash rushers before they can disrupt a quarterback’s throwing motion, and transform into a viable receiving threat in the passing game.
As of his freshman year, two out of three ain’t bad.
But this season, Ahmed arrives as the pre-ordained next up behind leading rusher Myles Gaskin. While Gaskin has been one of the most dependable running backs in the NCAA, the sophomore season for Ahmed is the real variable for the team. Should he deliver on his projected potential, Husky fans will be overcome with joy.
So what is that potential?
Well, let’s start off by acknowledging that he’s fast. Very fast. In fact, in an article by Christopher Angkico earlier this year, he cited Ahmed as the third fastest player on the team. In 2017, Ahmed carried the ball just 61 times. His teammate, Lavon Coleman, carried the ball 89 times. If those carries all end up with Ahmed this season, he projects to flirt with 1,000 yards and eight touchdowns. Likewise, if he picks up the passes thrown Coleman’s way, he will end up the season with 26 receptions, nearly 300 yards, and six touchdowns. Those numbers may not light up the sky individually, but coupled with Gaskin’s projected 1700 yards and 24 touchdowns, and it becomes a dominating running game with plenty of run-pass options (RPO).
Ahmed attracts attention in the backfield. In his first season, that translated into sporadic performances. In some games, he mustered no better than a 2.7 yards per carry average. In other games, he gashed defenses for 14.0 yards per carry. So there is definitely a risk of consistent production.
But it’s tough to get a good feel for a game without carrying the ball. The most carries Ahmed experienced in 2017 was 10 carries for 28 yards against Fresno State. In that game, Ahmed’s first carry with 2:26 left in the second quarter, and the score had already grown to 41-7 in Washington’s favor. While each player is expected to produce, by this time in the game, the bench had cleared onto the field and Ahmed’s instructions were to kill the clock and not turn the ball over.
Ahmed did get minutes in 2017, but they weren’t always quality minutes with a starting offensive line. That should not be the case this year. In fact, the rotation will likely split the burden of carries between Gaskin and Ahmed. And that will suit both runners splendidly.
Gaskin is a downhill runner. Ahmed has a burst to take it outside. Both can be incredibly effective. Combined, their contrasting styles will create nightmares for defenders trying to bring them down. Gaskin runs with authority. He is certainly fast enough, but his real strength is the constant churning of his legs to get out of traffic. Ahmed is faster and more elusive, with a style that simply outruns the defender.
The more carries he gets, the faster he becomes. Chasing a running back is not only extremely tiring to a defense, but it is incredibly demoralizing as well. That is what awaits the opponents of the Washington Football team this season. In the end, minutes for Salvon Ahmed equals production.