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Huskies continue merry-go-round at running back

Seattle Times

SEATTLE – Dwayne Washington’s personal-best performance last week did little to clear up what has been the Huskies’ season-long search to find a running back.

After rushing for 148 yards and two touchdowns at Arizona, the 6-foot-2, 219-pound sophomore climbed from third to first on the merry-go-round depth chart, and he is in line to make his second start of the season Saturday night in the Huskies’ home finale against the Oregon State Beavers.

But with two games remaining in the regular season, running backs coach Keith Bhonapha is sticking to a back-by-committee approach until he sees more consistency from Washington or anyone else.

The Huskies (6-5, 2-5 Pac-12) have had five running backs start at least one game this season.

“All of these guys are going to play,” Bhonapha said. “With the way our offense and our running back room is, you got to keep these guys fresh.

“Do I feel like Dwayne contributed a lot last week, and was I impressed with what he did? Yes. But our mindset is we’re going to get these guys in there and see who’s ready to go on Saturday.”

The Huskies will continue to rely on a stable of backs that includes redshirt freshman Lavon Coleman, who leads the team with 469 rushing yards, and senior Deontae Cooper, who is fourth with 265.

“Deontae is a tough kid, mentally tough,” Bhonapha said when asked about Cooper’s fumble in the final minutes last week before Arizona’s winning field goal as time expired. “He’ll be back in there. One play doesn’t erase everything. … We trust that guy.”

Bhonapha said linebacker Shaq Thompson, who ranks second for Washington with 456 rushing yards, may also get a few carries.

“Shaq is always an option,” Bhonapha said.

Then there’s Washington, who is third on the team with 420 rushing yards. He also has six touchdowns.

“The more that we can leave him in there, if he can stay healthy, he’s going to create ‘explosives.’ So that stuff doesn’t surprise me,” UW coach Chris Petersen said.

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