Washington head coach Steve Sarkisian made a prescient proclamation at July's Pac-12 media day.
"Bishop [Sankey]'s best days are still ahead of him," Sarkisian said.
Following a 208-yard performance in the Huskies' 34-24 win over Illinois Saturday, Sankey validated his coach's confidence. The junior has taken his momentum from a season ago and built upon it for even bigger things this campaign—possibly even the Heisman Trophy.
"We can't get complacent and that is something that we preach in the program," Sankey said in his postgame press conference Saturday, per FightingIllini.com.
Evidently. Sankey is far from resting on his laurels after running for 1,439 yards and 16 touchdowns in 2012. The Spokane (Wash.) Gonzaga Prep product is on a very early pace to surpass the 2,000-yard mark, something no college player has done since Donald Brown in 2008. His 184.5 yards per game lead the nation.
There was not even a guarantee Sankey would see the same kind of workload this year as in his surprise breakout campaign—not with talented Jesse Callier returning from injury and Washington's new, hurry-up offense requiring more substitutions and distribution of touches.
However, the adjustments Sarkisian introduced to the Husky offense in the offseason have actually made Sankey an even more integral part of the attack. He is indeed splitting carries with Callier, who had a productive Saturday: 66 yards on six carries and a touchdown.
But Sankey is the foundation, along with senior quarterback Keith Price, of a multifaceted offense showing early signs of having Washington in the thick of the Pac-12 race.
The balance of the Husky offense ultimately gives Sankey a more viable Heisman chance should he continue to set the pace for all the nation's ball-carriers. The revamped offense working with a stout defense has the Huskies in the Top 25, and their continued team success will bring Sankey more attention individually.
And while Sankey is getting more attention, he'll also get less—meaning, defensive coordinators cannot key in to stop Sankey exclusively.
Price is passing with confidence to a deep and talented receiving corps, so loading up against the rush isn't an option.
Too much balance can obviously be a Heisman deterrent.
Still, his current pace is much too impressive to ignore.
Kyle Kensing is the Pac-12 Lead Writer. All quotes were obtained firsthand, unless otherwise noted. Follow Kyle on Twitter: @kensing45.
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