Suddenly, Bishop Sankey carries the biggest responsibility at running back
Washington running back Bishop Sankey mentioned again Monday that he’s about 10 pounds bigger than he was last season, weighing in now at roughly 202 pounds.
That added weight, however, doesn’t include what is suddenly a much heavier responsibility to carry the Huskies’ running attack.
Washington coach Steve Sarkisian confirmed what was the team’s worst fear Monday, that junior running back Jesse Callier tore the ACL in his right knee in the 21-12 victory over San Diego State.
Callier and Sankey were expected to share the job of replacing Chris Polk at tailback.
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Now the job falls primarily to Sankey, a sophomore from Gonzaga Prep in Spokane.
“Obviously, we’re going to find out more about Bishop Sankey in a hurry,” Sarkisian said.
Sankey got the most extensive work of his career Saturday, gaining 66 yards on 22 carries after taking over when Callier was injured in the first quarter.
Callier, who entered the season with the most yards of anyone on the roster at 693, was hurt without being touched when trying to make a cut after catching a swing pass.
“Oh man, that’s big,” quarterback Keith Price said of losing Callier. “We can’t afford to lose any more guys.”
Sarkisian, though, also announced that defensive end Hau’oli Jamora will miss the year after reinjuring his ACL a few weeks ago. Sarkisian said Jamora underwent surgery Thursday.
And Sarkisian also said right tackle Ben Riva will be out for “significant time” after breaking his forearm Saturday.
Sarkisian said he thought the injuries might have taken a little of a mental toll on the Huskies.
“Throughout the year we’re going to get faced with adversity,” he said. “Guys are going to go down with injuries like what happened to us the other night — whether it’s Jesse or Ben Riva — those things can’t affect us.”
Riva likely will be replaced by junior Erik Kohler, who will move from right guard to right tackle, where he started last season. Redshirt sophomore James Atoe will likely move into Kohler’s spot at right guard. Touted true freshman Shane Brostek — who didn’t play against San Diego State — also will get a look at right guard.
Sankey now becomes the only Husky running back with any significant experience.
After hearing Callier might be seriously injured, the Huskies almost immediately got true freshman Erich Wilson II into the game, and he had two carries for 22 yards. Walk-on Willis Wilson also got a carry, the first of his career, for a yard.
Sarkisian said redshirt freshman Dezden Petty, who is more of a “big back,” likely will get more time.
Mostly, though, the burden will fall on Sankey, a four-star recruit who for a long time was a commit to Washington State before switching gears near the end and signing with UW for the Class of 2011.
Sankey had 49 yards on nine carries in the first half, including a 20-yarder that was the longest carry of the game for the Huskies.
But he was held to 17 yards on 13 carries the rest of the way, including a fumble early in the third quarter at the 8-yard line.
“I think it was a really good learning experience for him, putting the ball on the ground there,” Sarkisian said. “He’ll respond better to that next time. I thought he ran a little bit conservative after the fumble. It’s hard to be a running back and run conservative when you’re not a big thumper. He has to run with his style and he has to continually emphasize keeping the ball high and tight.”
Sankey said he feels up for the challenge.
“It’s unfortunate that Jesse went down,” Sankey said in his typically low-key style. “I just want to step up and do what it takes to help the team for the rest of the year.”
The loss of Callier could put even more on the shoulders of Price.
“It’s going to be rough (overcoming the loss of Callier),” Price said. “It’s not going to be an easy task. But I’m just going to continue doing what I do and continue to lead. And it’s not over. The season is not over. It’s just begun.”
Sarkisian was left to lament what has been a string of significant injuries. Three have been ACL injuries that occurred when players were untouched — Callier, Jamora and running back Deontae Cooper.
“We’ve exhausted ourselves on every study — from shoes, to the type of body type that’s getting injured, to quad and hamstring strength, to surface, to the type of plays, to when they occur in practice and games,” he said.
Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or firstname.lastname@example.org.