Rankin's Running Style Can Yield Big Plays
Oct. 26, 2006
SEATTLE (AP) - SEATTLE -- Washington running back Louis Rankin, with hisshifty, slashing style, wants to score every time he touches theball.
That a great attitude when Rankin, the Huskies' leading rusher,blasts through a hole and is sprinting in the open field. It canalso be frustrating for Washington's fans and coaches when Rankintries to make a simple run something much more complicated.
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'That's been him ever since we've been here,' Washingtonoffensive coordinator Tim Lappano said. 'We keep pushing it, butsometimes that style will get a 44-yard run and sometimes it'sprobably not what you want to see on third-and-1.'
Rankin rushed for 88 yards on a season-high 22 carries in lastSaturday's 31-24 overtime loss to California, and is likely to gethis first start of the season this week against Arizona State.Starter Kenny James sprained his right ankle against Cal and coachTyrone Willingham is unsure of James' availability against the SunDevils.
While Rankin's performance against Cal included a 44-yard run toset up a touchdown, he was maligned by fans for a third down runmidway through the fourth quarter.
Facing a third-and-1 at the Huskies' 48 with 7 minutes remainingand Washington ahead 17-16, Rankin tried to run wide off the edgeof the offensive line, instead of pounding the ball up the middle.Rankin was tackled for a 2-yard loss and the Huskies were forced topunt.
Cal took the ensuing possession and scored to take a 24-17 lead.
'It's hard. Believe me, it's hard, but we've addressed that,'Lappano said. 'Hopefully we're all on the same page.'
Rankin started the season with back-to-back 100-yard rushinggames -- 145 yards versus San Jose State and 112 at Oklahoma. Buthis next five games were highly disappointing as more of therunning load went to James and quarterback Isaiah Stanback.
In the five games prior to Cal, Rankin had just 38 carries for98 yards. Rankin is the only Huskies' running back to run for morethan 100 yards in a game, highlighting a season-long frustrationwith the consistency in Washington's ground attack. The Huskies are4-4 (2-3 Pac-10).
Success in running the ball was not a problem for Rankin in highschool. As a senior at Lincoln High in Stockton, Calif, Rankinrushed for a Stockton-record 41 touchdowns and 2,245 yards inleading his team to the section championship game.
Rankin played sparingly as a freshman and started seven gameslast season, rushing for 485 yards and averaging 4.7 yards percarry. Those numbers provided promise for this season.
He's rushed for 443 yards and is averaging 5.1 yards per carrythis season.
Rankin hopes the Cal game was a turning point.
'Sometimes it just takes me a while to get comfortable,' hesaid. 'A couple of weeks ago it took us a while to get (the rungame) going, but now it's going good.'