Jamal Morrow, Gerard Wicks, James Williams and Keith Harrington have all proved their worth on the football field. So how should WSU running backs coach Jim Mastro decide which ones get to play this year?
LEWISTON, Idaho — The question is posed to Jim Mastro, Washington State’s running backs coach: Have you figured out a way to get four running backs on the field this season?
Mastro snorts, as if to say, “I wish.”
“No,” he says, sighing heavily. “Someone is gonna lose out.”
The question of who loses out is one that keeps Mastro up at night.
Running back is one of the smallest position groups on the team, so Mastro is close to all his six backs, and it kills him that he’ll have to pick and choose among the four backs in the mix for starting jobs right now.
“They’re all dynamic. It’s fun as heck as a coach, but it’s a little bit frustrating because somehow, sometime, we’ve got to find two. Two or three,” Mastro says.
So which two would you pick if you were him?
The senior Swiss Army knife who led the team with 1,217 all-purpose yards last year, who’s 10th on the list of all time all-purpose yard gainers in school history?
The big, bruising bulldozer of a back who tied for the team lead with 13 total touchdowns last season?
The human dynamo who led the team with 102 carries and 583 yards, and showed he can squirm out of any tackle, make entire defenses whiff, and juke, jump and vault his way into the end zone at all costs?
Or the energetic, versatile back you liken to a yo-yo, who was sidelined for a year due to injury and is now burning with a hunger that you know will take him to new heights on the field?
Jamal Morrow, Gerard Wicks, James Williams and Keith Harrington could each be starting on just about any depth chart in Division I college football. Yet, somehow, the running back gods have chosen to bless the Cougars’ Air Raid, and they’ve all ended up in Mastro’s room together. It’s both an enviable and an impossible situation for any coach to be in.
Right now, Mastro almost wishes it were someone else’s problem.
“There’s not gonna be a right answer. That’s the problem,” he says. “No matter what, there’s a wrong answer because all four can play. They all look good right now.”
With the Cougars coming off a breakthrough season that saw their ground game soar to new heights in the Air Raid, the competition…