John Ross III on Coleman: “That kid is really a beast. Every opportunity he gets, he will take advantage of it. … Today was his coming-out party.”
Lavon Coleman never lost faith. Of course, he says, he believed he was capable of something like this.
“Everybody believes they have that in them, you know?” the Huskies’ junior running back said after rushing for a career-high 181 yards and one touchdown in Washington’s 35-28 overtime victory at Arizona late Saturday night. “I depend on those guys up front. Without them, this performance wouldn’t have happened.”
In what was a rather puzzling performance for the No. 9 Huskies, Coleman’s breakthrough was the most surprising of all.
He’s always had tantalizing potential. For someone his size — 5-feet-11 and 228 pounds — he has good speed, clocking a 4.5-second 40-yard dash earlier this year. But he opened this season as the Huskies’ No. 3 back behind Myles Gaskin and Jomon Dotson and in the first three games made his most meaningful contributions on kickoff coverage.
He burst back into the running back conversation Saturday night in Tucson. For a few minutes, it looked like his 55-yard touchdown run late in the fourth quarter was going to be the game-winner for the Huskies.
After Arizona scored the tying touchdown with 17 seconds left, Coleman showed he had more still. On the first play of overtime, he rushed 24 yards to the 1-yard line, setting up Jake Browning’s winning touchdown pass to Dante Pettis.
“That kid is really a beast,” UW receiver John Ross III said of Coleman. “Every opportunity he gets, he will take advantage of it. … Today was his coming-out party.”
The Huskies (4-0) rushed for a season-high 352 yards, averaging 6.9 yards per carry. Gaskin had 85 yards on 24 carries, Dotson added 23 yards on three carries, and Browning had positive rushing numbers (28 yards on 11 official carries) despite getting sacked four times.
Faith on Van Winkle
Senior Cameron Van Winkle, who entered the season as statistically the most accurate kicker in school history, missed both of his field-goal attempts, from 40 and 45 yards.
“He missed two, and one was off the (upright),” UW coach Chris Petersen said. “We get knocked back in the red zone. I don’t know how far those field goals were, but those things happen. He’s a good kicker, and the ball jumps off his foot pretty good. He’ll be back.”
A busy week greets the Huskies before their biggest game of the season.
The Huskies’ chartered flight was scheduled to arrive back in Seattle around 4 a.m. Sunday. With the short week to prepare for Friday’s showdown against No. 7 Stanford at Husky Stadium (6 p.m., ESPN), the Huskies will have a light practice on Sunday evening, as they usually do.
Monday is typically players’ off day, but they will practice every day this week leading up to the game, and then take Saturday as their one day off.
Then there’s a new wrinkle: Fall-term classes begin at UW on Wednesday, so players will have to juggle school and football for the first time this season.
“We’ve planned for about three weeks for this, for this short week,” Petersen said. “This is really hard, playing this game on a Friday against this really good team, school starting. We’ve had to do a bunch of different things, move practice times around. But we’ve worked on it for three weeks and we think we’ve got a good plan to give us a chance to compete on a short week.”
Tickets remain for Friday’s game — just the fourth game ever at Husky Stadium between two top-10 teams — but UW officials are hopeful it will wind up being the first sellout of the season.
The Huskies drew an average of 58,823 fans for the first three home games of the season.