Games like this are why Myles Gaskin has built a strong resume while also making a compelling argument.
The discussion at hand? Where does the junior fit in among Washington’s all-time greatest running backs?
Much was made of this Apple Cup. Washington State’s No. 11 defense was one of the best in the nation and one of the better units at stopping the run. The Cougars were allowing less than 130 yards per game and Gaskin ripped them apart.
He ran 25 times for 192 yards and four touchdowns to guide UW to an imposing 41-14 win over WSU on Saturday at Husky Stadium.
“I think that starts when you’re watching film,” Gaskin said about one of the best games of his career. “You kinda see things like, ‘Hey, I can apply this’ or ‘I can do this to open up a hole for whoever.’
“I think to myself, ‘That’s how they’re going to play and I think I can do this off of it.”
UW was already going to use Gaskin to move the ball and power the offense. Those plans somewhat changed when the Huskies lost senior running back Lavon Coleman, one of Gaskin’s best friends on the team.
Then the Huskies lost star receiver Dante Pettis which altered UW’s approach.
It’s not the first time this season the offense and offensive coordinator Jonathan Smith have been forced to change the script. Smith opted to shy away from balance and use the run to batter the Cougars.
UW ran 45 times for 328 yards and five touchdowns while throwing 17 times for 93 yards.
“Yeah, I think it started with the O-Line,” Huskies quarterback Jake Browning said. “You see he’s making most of his moves on DB’s and safeties and corners and so, any time those guys have to come up with tackles, you know the O-Line is doing a good job.
“I thought they dominated up front and that’s he was able to do what he did.”
Every time Gaskin touched the ball, it generated excitement.
He averaged 7.7 yards per carry and continually found space either by following his blockers or making his trademark quick cut.
Gaskin’s first two touchdowns were each 2-yarders but his third was his masterpiece. UW was already up 27-0 when Browning handed the ball off.
The 5-foot-10 and 191-pound Gaskin made a cornerback miss with a quick move and had about 10 yards of space. He had one man left to beat and slowed his run to create just enough hesitation to get the edge. Then, from about three yards out, he dove and stretched into the end zone for the score.
His 26-yard run gave UW a 34-0 lead and pretty much put the game out of reach.
“Man, that dude is a baller,” Huskies safety Jojo McIntosh said of Gaskin. “He’s a freak. He’s crazy, amazing, one of the best running backs I’ve played with.”
He might also be one of the best running backs to ever come through UW.
Gaskin’s career has been one of consistency. He ran 1,302 yards and 14 touchdowns as a freshman. A year later, he rushed for 1,373 yars and 10 touchdowns.
Through 12 games this season, he’s at 1,282 yards and 19 touchdowns.
Gaskin was already the program’s all-time leader in rushing touchdowns with 39. That figure moved to 43 and that number could increase after UW’s bowl game.
He’s only the third Husky to rush for more than 1,000 yards in three seasons, joining Napoleon Kaufman and Chris Polk.
After Saturday, Gaskin sits with 3,957 career rushing yards. If he can rush for 150 more yards, he moves beyond Kaufman and becomes the school’s all-time leading rusher.
“He’s a heck of a running back. He’s underrated, not of our opinion,” Huskies coach Chris Petersen said of Gaskin. “We know if he’s covered up, he has that unique, patient style where he can find creases and he’s strong and fast. He has a great combination of all of those things.”
Ryan S. Clark: @ryan_s_clark