Washington isn’t overlooking Washington State’s ground game.
The Cougars’ are known for the Air Raid offense, and they do throw the ball the majority of the time. Even so, their running backs will very much be on the Huskies’ radar when the Apple Cup kicks off Friday evening.
That’s not just because two running backs — James Williams and Max Borghi — have combined for 109 receptions for 833 yards. It’s also because that’s just what UW does.
“We’re always there to stop the run,” said defensive line coach Ikaika Malloe. “Even if they throw 85 percent of the time, we are really focused on stopping the run.”
Premium content for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
Williams and Borghi are dangerous once they have the ball, Malloe said. He called it “another run, a glorified sweep” when the Cougars hit them on swing routes. Beyond that, Williams has rushed for 499 yards and 10 touchdowns on 108 carries while Borghi has 62 carries for 337 yards and seven touchdowns.
“Those two guys,” he said, “we really have to try and lock them down as well.”
Petersen on grad transfers
Gardner Minshew, Washington State’s graduate transfer quarterback, has led the Cougars’ to a 10-1 record and a No. 8 spot in the College Football Playoff rankings.
Minshew’s eye-popping season season — he’s thrown for 4,328 yards and 36 touchdowns — had reporters on Monday asking Washington head coach Chris Petersen about graduate transfers.
NCAA rules allow athletes who completed their undergraduate degrees and have eligibility remaining to transfer without penalty.
Petersen said his issue with graduate transfers stems from the lack of a universal standard across college football. Because of UW’s strict academic standards and the December deadline for graduate school applications, it’s difficult if not impossible for the Huskies to sign a graduate transfer.
“We’ve been involved with a couple (transfers), but it wasn’t going to happen,” Petersen said. “We were past the deadline and just how they’re doing it here is different. If everybody is on the same page and a guy is going to come play football … because let’s be real: That’s what everybody’s going. They’re not going there to get a degree. They’re going there to play football. Let’s just all be on the same page, and then it’s all good.
“I’m happy for (Minshew). I really am. It wasn’t working out where he was and he’s having this unbelievable experience (in Pullman). I think that’s great. I think you’re going to see more and more of it, but we’re not seeing it here.”
In order for the system to be fair, Petersen said, standardization of the process is necessary.
“I do think there have been some conversations,” Petersen said. “I would think there would be a few schools (in favor of standardization). I mean, everyone’s selfish in this deal. Like, ‘Hey, if they can have them and we can’t, I don’t really want them to change the rule.’
“And if we have a hard time, or Stanford wanted to change, whatever. You just want to make it fair for everybody. … It’s been a discussion. There’s a lot of things in college football that fit this mold a little bit.”
Aided by a late bye week, UW will enter the Apple Cup perhaps the healthiest it’s been all season.
That includes the return of left tackle Trey Adams, who reportedly underwent back surgery early in the season and played for the first time this season against Oregon State. Adams will return for a fifth season of eligibility next year, but he can still play in four games this season.
After the game, Petersen asked Adams how it went.
“And he was like, ‘Awesome,’ Petersen said. “That’s what he said. It was good. He’s not where he has been, but it was great to get him out there and get him some game reps.”
Meanwhile, sophomore tight end Hunter Bryant has played against Stanford and Oregon State. Petersen said earlier he’s not necessarily looking to limit Bryant’s appearances to four games so he could still redshirt.
“When we brought him back, he was looking like he had his legs back under him and could run like he normally had been,” Petersen said. “In a game, he’s playing at a pretty good clip. It’s just a matter of getting him more plays and more involved.”