Myles Gaskin feels like he has something to prove.
It’s hard to believe, coming from Washington’s all-time leading rusher. But Gaskin missed time this year for the first time in his career, sitting out the Huskies’ games against Colorado and Cal after getting injured against Oregon.
He’d never been regulated to the sideline before, unable to help. It was particularly wrenching during UW’s loss to Cal. So when he returned to the field against Stanford two weeks ago, Gaskin believed he owed something to his teammates.
All he did was rush for 148 yards and a touchdown on 28 carries during the 27-23 victory over the Cardinal. But in Gaskin’s mind, that was just the beginning. Before UW’s home finale against Oregon State, he said he wasn’t done making up for the missed time yet.
“I felt terrible that I couldn’t play,” Gaskin said. “I feel like it was just a hard thing to do. Once I was able to play, I felt like I had a lot to prove, I had a lot to show the team. Just as personal opinion, for missing two games, I had to make up for it.
“I feel like I still have to make up for it in these last couple games because I did miss two whole games. Those games meant a lot to this team and I never want to be on the sideline just being a cheerleader. If I have to, I will. But I don’t want to be.”
Gaskin wasn’t on the sideline Saturday afternoon against the Beavers. Instead, he rushed for 135 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries. Early in the first quarter, he had racked up 101 yards on just three carries.
He made his presence known during UW’s first offensive series. After rushing for 14 yards on the opening play, he was taken down for a loss of 3 yards. On the next play, he broke free for a 64-yard run down to the Beavers’ 4-yard line. Salvon Ahmed then scored on a 4-yard run to put UW ahead 7-0.
Gaskin’s latest outings have been two of the most productive of his senior season. His 148 yards against Stanford were a season-high. His performance against Oregon State only trailed his 143 yards against Utah.
He said he felt better than expected against the Cardinal.
“The trainers took real good care of me and handled everything really well,” he said Wednesday. “I guess the two weeks (off) were needed as much as I don’t want to say that.”
Like several other injured Huskies, last week’s bye also benefited Gaskin as he was able to add another week of rest before Friday’s high stakes game against Washington State. The winner of the Apple Cup will take the Pac-12 North and advance to the conference championship game.
Gaskin wouldn’t have it any other way.
“That’s how you want to do it,” he said. “In-home rivalry and just have fun with it.”
The rivalry is particularly enjoyable for Gaskin. The Lynwood, Wash. native grew up watching it every year.
“It’s always meant a lot to the state and everybody in it,” he said. “It’s just one of those things. … It’s a lot fun. I don’t know, it means a lot to both teams.”
Gaskin said he’s currently 100 percent healthy, and he’s certainly playing like it. He hopes that will be enough for the Huskies to close out with a string of victories. It would mean a lot, he said. Not just because he’s a senior, but because this season hasn’t gone exactly the way the Huskies’ hoped.
Now, they just want to go out on top.
“Control what we can,” he said. “Take it game by game. I’m really excited for these next couple weeks.”
Gaskin and the Huskies took care of business against Oregon State, setting up Friday night’s showdown at Martin Stadium. For Gaskin, the game represents another opportunity to make up for the time he missed.
But he’s probably the only one who believes he has anything to prove.
Just ask head coach Chris Petersen.
“He’s just a special player,” Petersen said after Saturday’s win. “He’s just a rare, unique running back for us for sure. He’s just got tremendous vision. He’s just been another guy that’s been exactly the same since he showed up here as a freshmen.
“He works his tail off. He loves to practice. You never know sometimes what these kids are like from the outside. They show up on Saturday and they’re good players and this and that. These guys we’re talking about are like, as good as they come.”