Jake Browning is confident Myles Gaskin will take over eventually: "Myles is Myles; he’s going to do his thing. We all saw that (last season). Sooner or later he’s going to take over."
With 213 yards on the ground Saturday, the Huskies had their most productive rushing performance of the season in a 41-3 victory over Portland State.
Even in limited duty, sophomore running back Myles Gaskin had a season-high 93 yards and one touchdown on 13 carries.
UW coach Chris Petersen still wants more from the ground game entering Saturday’s Pac-12 opener at Arizona (7:30 p.m. PT, Pac-12 Network).
“I need to look at it again,” he said after the game. “I thought it got going at times, but I still don’t think it’s necessarily where it needs to be. We need to put that tape on and see what we’re thinking, but general impression: I think we need to do a little more. I think our yardage was pretty good, but I still think we could be a little more physical and come off the ball a little bit better.”
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In particular, Petersen was irked by an underwhelming third quarter. The Huskies led 28-0 at halftime and intended to run out the clock by running the ball again and again.
That plan fell flat: The Huskies ran just six offensive plays and held the ball for a little more than 3 minutes in the third quarter.
Their first drive of the second half was derailed by a holding penalty on right guard Shane Brostek on first down. The next two run plays netted just 4 yards, and UW wound up punting.
“The third quarter was the most frustrating because our plan was to hold the ball, milk the clock and snap it late,” Petersen said. “That is fine, be we better execute. One time in the third quarter we went backwards and that was frustrating. We had some penalties that were a little bit uncharacteristic.
“A couple of sloppy ones on the offensive line that, again, we will need to look at the tape to see what that was all about. I know we got a holding call on a play we should never get a holding call when there’s no need to hold at all so that was frustrating.”
So even in a 3-0 start in which they’ve outscored opponents 148-30, there are things to be cleaned up.
The Huskies have scored 40 points or more in six consecutive games — the longest active streak in the nation — and Jake Browning and the passing attack has impressed early on.
But UW’s two rushing touchdowns in three games is tied (with Washington State) for the fewest in the Pac-12. The Huskies are also 10th in the Pac-12 in time of possession, holding the ball on average for 26 minutes, 36 seconds. (Arizona and Oregon, two uptempo offenses, rank 11th and 12, respectively, in time of possession).
And while time of possession can be an unnecessary statistic for some modern offenses, part of UW’s goal with its slow-it-down offense is to control the clock and keep its own defense off the field. That strategy goes hand in hand with a good run game.
The goal for UW’s offense is to be balanced. So far, the Huskies have thrown for 839 yards on 84 passing attempts and rushed for 430 yards on 95 carries (4.53 yards per carry).
Browning isn’t concerned about the run game. He says opposing defenses will have to respect will have to respect UW’s improved passing game, which should in turn open things up for Gaskin.
“The first three games we’ve obviously put up a lot of points, so everyone is looking for something (to be critical of),” he said. “We put up a lot of points in three games. So sooner or later people are going to have to start playing off (the receivers) a little bit more. … That’s when Myles take over. We’ve all seen what he can do. No one is doubting him. I think Jomon (Dotson) is a great back. Lavon (Coleman) is a great back.
“Myles is Myles; he’s going to do his thing. We all saw that (last season). Sooner or later he’s going to take over at some point and we’re all going to be thinking, ‘What were we thinking?’”