Oct. 26, 2006
SEATTLE (AP) - SEATTLE -- Washington running back Louis Rankin, with his shifty, slashing style, wants to score every time he touches the ball.
That a great attitude when Rankin, the Huskies' leading rusher, blasts through a hole and is sprinting in the open field. It can also be frustrating for Washington's fans and coaches when Rankin tries to make a simple run something much more complicated.
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Rankin rushed for 88 yards on a season-high 22 carries in last Saturday's 31-24 overtime loss to California, and is likely to get his first start of the season this week against Arizona State. Starter Kenny James sprained his right ankle against Cal and coach Tyrone Willingham is unsure of James' availability against the Sun Devils.
While Rankin's performance against Cal included a 44-yard run to set up a touchdown, he was maligned by fans for a third down run midway through the fourth quarter.
Facing a third-and-1 at the Huskies' 48 with 7 minutes remaining and Washington ahead 17-16, Rankin tried to run wide off the edge of the offensive line, instead of pounding the ball up the middle. Rankin was tackled for a 2-yard loss and the Huskies were forced to punt.
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 rushing games -- 145 yards versus San Jose State and 112 at Oklahoma. But his next five games were highly disappointing as more of the running load went to James and quarterback Isaiah Stanback.
In the five games prior to Cal, Rankin had just 38 carries for 98 yards. Rankin is the only Huskies' running back to run for more than 100 yards in a game, highlighting a season-long frustration with the consistency in Washington's ground attack. The Huskies are 4-4 (2-3 Pac-10).
Success in running the ball was not a problem for Rankin in high school. As a senior at Lincoln High in Stockton, Calif, Rankin rushed for a Stockton-record 41 touchdowns and 2,245 yards in leading his team to the section championship game.
Rankin played sparingly as a freshman and started seven games last season, rushing for 485 yards and averaging 4.7 yards per carry. Those numbers provided promise for this season.
He's rushed for 443 yards and is averaging 5.1 yards per carry this season.
Rankin hopes the Cal game was a turning point.
"Sometimes it just takes me a while to get comfortable," he said. "A couple of weeks ago it took us a while to get (the run game) going, but now it's going good."