When looking back at 2015, Washington ran 873 total plays on offense for 5240 yards.
Myles Gaskin accounted for 25 percent of Washington’s total offense. Dwayne Washington was UW’s next most productive offensive skill player not named Jake Browning, with five percent. So in very rough terms, Myles Gaskin’s worth went far beyond value: he was irreplaceable.
Gaskin burst on to the scene with a 78-yard run to cap off a 146-yard, three touchdown day versus Sacramento State. But the true frosh’s coming out party was at USC, where a four-play drive - all Gaskin runs totaling 50 yards - gave Washington a 17-6 lead over the Trojans, a lead they would never relinquish in arguably their best win of the season.
Myles never let off the gas after that, eventually running for 1302 yards and 14 touchdowns. Just to put Gaskin’s historic 2015 in context, Washington’s all-time leading rusher, Napoleon Kaufman, ran for 307 yards as a true freshman. Chris Polk, Washington’s second all-time leading rusher, ran for 33 yards as a true freshman. Washington’s No. 3 all-time leading rusher, Bishop Sankey? He redshirted.
In short, what Myles Gaskin did at Washington last season is nothing short of unprecedented.
We can go into the myriad reasons why having a dominant running back helps out an offense. It creates balance, which keeps even the most aggressive offenses off-kilter. It creates play-action for the offensive coordinator, which opens up the playbook, which keeps defenses from staying aggressive. A top running game can extend drives and run clock, keeping the other team’s offense off the field. But more than anything, a top running game can frustrate opponents into abandoning game plans, taking risks as a result.
This is why Myles Gaskin has so much value for Washington. And his value will only increase this fall because the Huskies’ number-two running back from 2015, Dwayne Washington, is gone. The next in line is Lavon Coleman and his 176 yards. In full context, Coleman ran for 565 yards two years ago, so he is capable of making a difference.
After that, there’s no proven running backs. There’s a ton of talent in Jomon Dotson, Sean McGrew and Kamari Pleasant - but McGrew and Pleasant haven’t played one down of Division-1 football yet and Dotson has only 18 carries so far in his young career.
So in many ways it’s Gaskin or bust. If he can play in every game in 2016 like he did in 2015, his value will only continue to grow.