Coupled with the toughest schedule in the nation, the dawgs have major issues on both sides of the field.
On two occasions this year, the defense has come close to setting some dubious records for yards allowed, and appears to be headed for an all time low in terms of rush defense.
On the offensive side of the ball, the Huskies are breaking in a redshirt freshman quarterback, an invisible tight end corps, an inability to score after halftime, and a running back that for some reason has a fear of running down the field.
Support is beginning to wane for Coach Willingham and many are doubting his ability to emerge from the cover of mediocrity. One of the most baffling problems holding this team back is the inabililty to mount a consistant rushing attack outside of quarterback Jake Locker. The running game has been non exsistant for the huskies since the last days of the 2000 season with Tui and company. The huskies have not had a thousand yard rusher since Rashan Shehee did it in 1997. This point just boggles the mind. The huskies have a rich heritage in running backs and the program has always put a strong running game down as a priority.
This year not so much. Most times, when the running game struggles the was washington's has most of the blame goes to the line or the running back. Through the first seven games the offensive line has opened the holes needed, just the man with the ball has hesitated to hit them. Louis Rankin, the fifth year speedster, who looks like he is competing in "Dancing with the Stars" rather then playing running back for the huskies. Ranking has been dancing since his first start with the dawgs, a start that looked promising against Air Force, in the opening game of the 2005 season. In each of the last 3 seasons Rankin has started off strong with opening day performances that gave fans hope that a star running back had finally broken out. In 2005, against air force, Rankin rushed for 112 yards, an again in 2006 and 2007 he rushed for 145 and 147 against San Jose State and Syracuse respectively. And each year, in the same fashion his production falls off dramatically, partly due to the increased pedigree of the opponent and partly due to Rankins love affair with the homerun.
Yes Rankin has had some great runs as some at crutial times but at the crutial times in a drive when the dawgs need a first down on third and short, Rankin usuall falls short looking for the big gainer. The game last year against California was a model example of this. In that game Rankin had a 44 yard run that set up a touchdown in the second half, but was stopped for a loss in the backfield on 7 of his 22 carries.
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