With Washington running back Bishop Sankey atop the national rankings in both total yards rushing and yards per game — and with half of the season officially gone — we figured it would be timely to take a look at what Sankey has to do in the season’s second half to break Corey Dillon’s single-season UW rushing record of 1,695 yards set in 1996.
The simplest way to look at it: if Sankey replicates the numbers he posted in the first half of the season, he’ll shatter the school record. That’s easy math — Sankey has 899 yards rushing through six games, an average of 5.65 per carry and 149.8 per game. Projected over a 12-game season, that’s a pace of 1,798 yards. And that’s not even considering Sankey’s major advantage over Dillon in this conversation: two more wins, and the Huskies earn a 13th game. Dillon only got 12.
But nothing is that cut and dry. To start, here’s a look at each back’s numbers through their first six games:
Corey Dillon, 1996
Game 1: 7 carries, 36 yards
Game 2: 10 carries, 82 yards
Game 3: 20 carries, 125 yards
Game 4: 36 carries, 173 yards
Game 5: 18 carries, 87 yards
Game 6: 33 carries, 145 yards
6-game totals: 124 carries, 648 yards (5.2 ypc, 108 ypg)
Bishop Sankey, 2013
Game 1: 25 carries, 161 yards
Game 2: 35 carries, 208 yards
Game 3: 4 carries, 77 yards
Game 4: 40 carries, 161 yards
Game 5: 27 carries, 125 yards
Game 6: 28 carries, 167 yards
6-game totals: 159 carries, 899 yards (5.65 ypc, 149.8 ypg)
The instant analysis is that Sankey has a pretty strong lead over Dillon’s pace at this point. But the major caveat here is that Dillon went bananas in the second half of the season, rushing for 1,047 yards on 177 carries in UW’s final six games, a stretch that included his famous 16-carry, 222-yard first quarter against San Jose State.
(There are similarities between the two players here, because Sankey also had a game in which he didn’t play past the first quarter, leaving after just four carries for 77 yards against Idaho State. Throw out that game, and he’s averaging 31 carries per game.)
Another thing to consider is quality of competition. The five FBS teams the Huskies have played possess rush defenses that average out to rank 57th in the country — Stanford being the best at 24th, and Illinois being the worst at 97th.
UW’s remaining six opponents — ASU, California, Colorado, UCLA, Oregon State and WSU — possess rush defenses that average out to a national ranking of 64. None of the Huskies’ next three opponents rank better than 76th in that statistic, but their final three opponents rank 40th, 41st and 42nd, respectively.
To break Dillon’s record in 12 games, Sankey must average 132.8 yards per game. If he maintains his current pace of 26.5 carries per game — and remember, excluding the Idaho State game, that number is actually higher — he needs to average just a shade over 5 yards per carry the rest of the season, which is a little more than half-a-yard below his current average.
To accomplish the same in 13 games, Sankey needs 113.9 yards per game, or 4.3 yards per carry based on that average of 26.5 carries per game.
So, does he have it in him? I think it’s fair to say he has a real shot at cracking the 1,695-yard mark if his workload doesn’t diminish. The one snag could be the Huskies’ games against Pac-12 doormats California and Colorado. The Huskies will be heavily favored in each of those, and a pair of blowouts would not be surprising. If that means fewer carries for Sankey — say, 15 or 20 in the first half or three quarters, then backups the rest of the way — it could also mean his per-game yardage could take a dip, and catching Dillon could become more difficult.
It’s also entirely possible Sankey will break Dillon’s single-season carries record of 301. To do that in 12 games, Sankey needs about 24 carries per game the rest of the way. To break that record in 13 games, he needs to average about 21.
There are also career records to keep an eye on. Sankey has moved past Hugh McElhenny into seventh all-time on UW’s career rushing list with 2,525 yards so far. Another 111 yards, and he’ll move past Jacque Robinson into sixth place. If he does end up breaking Dillon’s single-season record, Sankey would finish the season trailing only Napoleon Kaufman and Chris Polk on the school’s career rushing list. If he breaks Dillon’s record and returns for his senior season, Sankey would need fewer than 1,000 yards in 2014 to become the school’s all-time leading rusher.
Lots of games to be played and decisions to be made, obviously, and things have a way of changing in a hurry in college football. But at the season’s midway point, the potential at least exists for Sankey to re-write history.
Christian Caple can be reached at email@example.com. Twitter: @ChristianCaple