Salvon Ahmed, Sean McGrew and Kamari Pleasant helped the Huskies rush for a season-high 201 yards last Saturday against Colorado.
Washington’s “three-headed monster” in the backfield, as Chris Petersen called his young running backs, might be asked to carry the load again for No. 15 Washington this week.
With senior Myles Gaskin sidelined for the first time in his career with a shoulder injury, sophomores Salvon Ahmed, Sean McGrew and Kamari Pleasant helped the Huskies rush for a season-high 201 yards (on 40 carries) in a 27-13 victory over Colorado last Saturday.
Gaskin has been practicing this week, at least in some capacity, and the Huskies are hopeful he can return this Saturday at California (3:30 p.m., FOX Sports 1). But if Gaskin remains out, the young backs are confident they can again lead the way.
“All of us have to step up,” Ahmed said. “I was happy to see that we were able to do that (against Colorado) — happy for all of us. It’s something I know we can do throughout the season.”
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A second-year sophomore out of Juanita High, Ahmed had nine carries for 73 yards and a touchdown against Colorado, a week after he appeared to hyperextend his knee at Oregon.
“I’m all good to go,” he said Wednesday.
McGrew added 12 carries for 58 yards against Colorado, and Pleasant had 10 carries for 35 yards.
“I think everybody else is more surprised than I am,” running backs coach Keith Bhonapha said. “Day after day, these guys have come out and worked hard. They’ve been through the grind of what it takes to kind of take the next step to get on the field here and they’ve done that. Obviously, they wouldn’t be out there if they hadn’t taken the next step.
“The thing I’m happy about is, you go so long preaching to these guys what it takes to get on the football field and to actually not just get out there but to get out there and be successful, and I will say those guys have really taken that to heart and done the hard work behind the scenes. So I’m happy it’s paying off for them.”
Yes, Ahmed said, he completed his mandatory penalty of 500 push-ups on Sunday after being flagged for an unsportsmanlike-conduct penalty against Colorado. Ahmed, standing right next to a field judge, made a throat-slashing gesture in celebration of his nifty seven-yard touchdown run.
“I’ve got to be accountable for my actions. I know it wasn’t the right thing to do and it won’t happen again,” Ahmed said. “It was just definitely a spur of the moment (thing) and the emotions took over, and I paid the consequences for it.”
Pleasant’s 15-yard touchdown run in the second-quarter gave the Huskies the lead for good against Colorado, and even four days later he marveled at the massive hole UW’s offensive line created for him on the play.
“Shout out to the whole O-line,” Pleasant said. “That was perfect.”
The running backs, Pleasant said, are all close. “We’re all brothers. We’re all around each other all the time,” he said.
Ahmed echoed those sentiments.
“We’re not a selfish group,” Ahmed said. “We all want each other to do amazing when we get the chance. With me, Sean and Kamari having to step up, we all want fresh legs as well. … It’s just being ready for the moment and knowing everyone can get out there and do good things and make plays.”
And maybe a few more of them this Saturday.