Sept. 3, 2005
By Benton Strong
All fall Husky players said the one player that might be the biggest surprise on the team was sophomore tailback Louis Rankin. With junior starter Kenny James out of the lineup after missing a good portion of the team's preseason drills with a bruised shoulder, Rankin got his first start.
He made the most of it.
The redshirt sophomore from Stockton, Calif., rushed for 112 yards on 23 carries, more than triple his total of 35 yards in the entire 2004 season. Rankin took the majority of the handoffs because of the rhythm he got into early in the game.
Even in a tough 20-17 loss, Rankin had what head coach Tyrone Willingham called a "solid performance."
Offensive coordinator Tim Lappano said that the team planned to use a committee of tailbacks, but had planned to keep in anyone who continued to gain yards. Lappano liked Rankin's "second effort runs," where he was able to gain more yards after the first or second hit.
Rankin was the only back to rush more than six times and had an average of 4.9 yards per carry. He was the Huskies first 100-yard rusher since Kenny James went over the century mark against San Jose State seven games ago.
"We lost the game, so I guess that wasn't enough," said Rankin about his performance. "I am hoping next week that we will win the game."
In his first career start the 6-0, 195-pound Rankin racked up 57 yards in the first quarter, including a 25-yard scamper in Washington's first scoring drive. He also eclipsed his career-rushing total on that run.
"We wanted to come out and play hard," said Rankin. "We wanted to do our job, play smart and play hard."
Willingham said his running game was good at times, not so good at others. The Huskies rushed for a 138 total yards in the game. With one full game under his belt Rankin is confident that things will get better.
"I think we will be okay," said Rankin. "We have to step it up next week and get the win. We got our first loss, so now we are just taking each game at a time."