Lappano is ready to run

Now that the new coaching staff finally has their players running through drills, many fans can divert their attention away from one of the worst offensive performances in Husky history. New offensive coordinator Tim Lappano has taken a look at game films and while he says there is a lot of work to do, there are some nice components to work with on the offensive side of the ball.

One thing he noticed was the speed of the running backs.

"I think we have some speed at tailback," Lappano said, almost surprised. "I think there are going to be some real battles there. I was really concerned when I came here, because a lot of people said ‘you have no running backs', but I don't believe that."

Lappano singled out one player in particular as someone to keep an eye on.

"I think Louis Rankin has a lot of athleticism," Lappano stated. "He's going to have to learn how to get his pad level down, because he runs too high, but he is over six feet tall and he's fast. I think he could surprise a lot of people. I would be disappointed if he doesn't do some nice things in spring football."

The main area of concern for Lappano and Head Coach Tyrone Willingham is finding a quarterback this spring. One of the main competitors will be junior Isaiah Stanback who got some extended playing time last season.

Lappano seems intrigued at having a player with athleticism that Stanback brings to the table. "It's going to be awesome to have a guy with some mobility," he said. "Anytime you can spread the field and have a quarterback with mobility, you're going to cause the defense a lot of problems. When you have a guy who can get 10, 15 or 20 yards…that is going to help us a ton."

The mantra for the quarterbacks this spring, and all season for that matter, is going to be protecting the ball and making good decisions. A key reason for the focus is because Washington led the nation in turnovers last season with 42, including 24 interceptions.

"I think the biggest thing that I saw with a lot of these guys, is we have to make better decisions at quarterback to win games" Lappano said. "We can't be sloppy at quarterback; we can't be sloppy the way we take care of the football; we can't be sloppy by just throwing the ball up and hoping somebody makes a play. We have to know what we're doing with the football.

"We can't be last in the nation in turnovers and expect to win games. That is the biggest thing…these guys have to understand what they have to do with the football."

As far as the receivers are concerned, Lappano sees some good players, but he doesn't see one aspect right now…and that concerns him.

"We have some good receivers that are possession receivers," Lappano said. "But I will say this…we are missing the big-time speed guy that can take the top off the coverage. That is something that we've addressed as a staff and that's something we have to get in this offense."

When the talk turned to his offensive philosophy, Lappano was non-committal. He laughingly told all of the reporters in attendance, "I can't tell you guys too much. That's one of the advantages that we have…no one knows what we are going to run."

Lappano did say that he wants a balanced offense and that he expects the Huskies to run the ball well next season. "Every week, we will run two backs and smash the ball. I want us to be able to run down hill. They did some good things in the run game here last year and if they had just stayed with it…"

Then, after pausing a moment, Lappano continued. "The best offenses I've been with are the ones where we were able to run the football. I believe you have to run the football in this league to win a championship."

And how do you make that possible? Lappano said it is up to the guys up front.

"I see some athletic guys and some big guys," Lappano said sounding disappointed. "We've got to play hard and flat out get after it and get an attitude. We're not nasty enough yet. We've got to get a mindset here that we're going to be able to run the football."

Two points that Lappano really wants to focus on are: 1) turnovers and 2) learning how to play the game for 60 minutes no matter what happens.

"What are we going to do if we kick the ball to Air Force on the opening kickoff and they return it for 100 yards?" Lappano asked rhetorically. "What are we going to do offensively? Are we going to just hang our hats? We've got to go out and answer it and have that mentality of, ‘Hey, you're going to get yours and we're going to get ours, but we're going to get one more than you get'."

Husky fans are hoping Lappano and crew get that ‘one more' a lot this upcoming season.

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