Dawgman.com Post-Season Position Analysis: Running Back

In our second post-season analysis we look at the running backs, a group that consisted of six returning players and one freshman that was expected to be very, very good in time. With the quarterback position basically up for grabs, the running backs were supposed to provide the backbone to an offense looking to find its footing early.

Running Back (by class)

6 Deontae Cooper  (5-11, 202, Sr.)
12 Dwayne Washington (6-2, 221, Jr.) 
22 Lavon Coleman (5-11, 222, So.)
40 Ralph Kinne (5-10, 205, So.)* 
34 Jomon Dotson (5-10, 174, RFr.) 
30 Gavin McDaniel (5-8, 185, RFr.)*
9 Myles Gaskin (5-9, 195, Fr.)

* Walk-on

Where does the running back position find itself after the season?

 The three main returning running backs - Washington, Coleman, and Cooper - accounted for nearly 60 percent of Washington’s total run game in 2014, and 28 percent of the Huskies’ total offensive output. So it would have been totally reasonable to assume those three would account for at least that much of the run burden for the Huskies in 2015.

Wrong, wrong, and triple wrong.

There was one running back who accounted for over 63 percent of Washington's run attack this past season, and it wasn't Dwayne Washington, Lavon Coleman, or Deontae Cooper. In fact, those three COMBINED only shared 29 percent of the efforts, down half from the year prior.

It was Myles Gaskin, the true frosh from O'Dea, who stepped into the breach and did something no other first-year running back has ever done at Washington; rush for over 1000 yards. His efforts were nothing short of awe-inspiring.

So when you look at what Gaskin was able to accomplish in 12 games, and add to it the veteran nous, quality and versatility provided by Washington, Coleman and Cooper, the running back position is as healthy as it has ever been at UW. They have four legitimate running backs. Only a couple of them would be considered home-run threats (Gaskin and Washington), and only one seems to be capable of carrying the mail much past 10-15 carries - but Jonathan Smith will have a boat-load of experience and diversity to choose from in the spring when the players come back for the first time in 2016.

Myles Gaskin (5-9, 195, Fr.): We said prior to the 2015 season that it would be wrong to count Gaskin out as a potential contributor, and we were proven correct. But not even the Washington coaches could have imagined the kind of jaw-dropping effort the true freshman would display time and time again. He set 2015 records for carries, yards, touchdowns, long run, and average yards per game. He basically quadrupled the next best running back the Huskies had in terms of yards (Washington). So when Washington fans looked to the roster to see who the next Chris Polk would be, or the next Bishop Sankey - they found their man in Myles Gaskin. 1121 yards with a 5.6 yards per carry average is extremely solid work no matter what year player you are, and his yards already put him ahead of Polk's 2009 totals with one game left to play. In fact, in the 75 years statistics have been taken for Washington Football, Gaskin's 1121 yards would have made him a season leader 65 times. He currently stands as the 35th most productive running back in the country for 2015, and the top true freshman. You would have to go to No. 48 to find the next true freshman - Penn State's Saquon Barkley - on the list. And Barkley is over 100 yards behind Gaskin.

It's pretty hard to overstate just how amazing Gaskin was in 2015.

Dwayne Washington (6-2, 221, Jr.): As consistent as Gaskin was this past season, Dwayne Washington's season was just as stop-start. His season started out strange; 31 total yards against Boise State, Sacramento State and Utah State - but there were slivers of hope. During those three games he found his receiving form, catching 14 passes for over 200 yards. He was a threat, but just not in the run game. Then he came alive against California, running for 109 yards and showing just how explosive he can be. Then 15 yards at USC, nothing against Oregon, minus yards at Stanford. Just when it looked like Washington would be written off in 2015, he came back with 76 yards versus Arizona and 55 versus Utah. He was back to contributing in a meaningful way. And then his season was over with an injury during warmups before the Arizona State game and we never saw him again.

Lavon Coleman (5-11, 222, So.): With so many bodies to choose from, it appeared Coleman's role would be as Washington's change-up when he needed a spell. What actually happened is that the sophomore ran for 137 yards in mostly mop-up duty while Gaskin ran wild. His role ended up being a bigger on on special teams, which shouldn't be minimized - but outside of 43 yards against Oregon State when the game was already well out of reach, Coleman really didn't do anything meaningful as a running back in 2015.

Deontae Cooper (5-11, 202, Sr.): After showing so much promise at the end of 2014, and especially since coming back from three knee surgeries, anything the Huskies got out of Cooper would be considered a bonus. He ran 15 times for 96 yards, his most meaningful action against Oregon State in a clean-up role (just like Jonathan Smith made a career out of playing UW, Cooper has made a career out of tearing up the Beavers).

Jomon Dotson (5-10, 174, RFr.): We thought this would be Dotson's time to break through as a speed alternative to Dwayne Washington, but that never materialized. In fact, it's a tad ironic that what Dotson will be remembered for most in 2015 wasn't a run, but a handoff - to Chico McClatcher for Washington's first touchdown in their 45-10 romp over Washington State. In all, Dotson only played in five games, carrying the ball 18 times for 42 yards.

Ralph Kinne (5-10, 205, So.): Kinne, a walk-on, had seven carries for 18 yards in four games.

Gavin McDaniel (5-8, 185, RFr.): McDaniel, a walk-on, did not have any carries in 2015.

Overall Position Grade

This one is pretty straightforward, and one where the statistics actually do tell the story of the position group as a whole. Gaskin by himself gets an A; he set UW records and became the future of the position within a span of 12 games. It's hard to ask much more than that. But the rest of the group ran for 575 yards. Gaskin basically doubled their output by himself. That's just crazy to think, especially how this group was set up in the fall to create production in the aggregate. In golf parlance, they were going to 'ham and egg' it through the season, with different backs picking up the slack as needed, playing the hot hand when possible. That never materialized, and in fact the exact opposite happened. Gaskin got the hot hand in week two and put a vice-grip over the starting spot the rest of the season. So with Gaskin outstanding and the rest a throwaway, it's easy to stick this position group grade right in the middle.


Projected 2016 Spring RB Depth Chart

9 Myles Gaskin (5-9, 195, So.)
12 Dwayne Washington (6-2, 221, Sr.)
6 Deontae Cooper (5-11, 202, Sr.) OR
22 Lavon Coleman (5-11, 222, Jr.)
34 Jomon Dotson (5-10, 174, So.)
40 Ralph Kinne (5-10, 205, Jr.)
30 Gavin McDaniel (5-8, 185, So.)

Post-Season Position Analysis: QB’s

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