Washington State Cougars have added some ground game into their Air Raid Offense

Last year’s team rushed for 1,560 yards, which is the most for any squad coached by Mike Leach. For this season, the first priority is simple: start 1-0.

HOLLYWOOD, Calif. — Washington State senior running back Jamal Morrow remembers the puzzled looks he got from people when he first decided to play for the Cougars.

Why would a running back, he would get asked, want to play for an offense that throws the ball more than anyone else in college football?

Entering his senior season, Morrow is getting fewer and fewer puzzled looks about the Cougars’ rushing attack.

Since Mike Leach’s first season, the Cougars have tripled their run production. In 2012, Leach’s Air Raid offense netted a mere 1.38 yards per rushing attempt (that includes quarterback sacks, and there was a whole lot of those that first season — 57 in all, most in the nation).

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In 2016, with a three-headed rushing attack of Jamal Morrow, James Williams and Gerard Wicks, the Cougars averaged 4.3 yards per carry (including sacks) and rushed for more yards (1,560) than any team Leach has coached.

“In the beginning of the season, teams aren’t really respecting the run,” Morrow said during Pac-12 media days Thursday at the Hollywood & Highland Center. “They said, ‘If they’re going to beat us, they’re going to run the ball.’ And we’ve shown that we can actually beat you running the ball.

“Last year, we slowly started to see (defenses) creep up and respect our run game later in the season, and that’s what you want, to have that type of respect, that teams are really worried about your running game.”

Morrow, Williams and Wicks are all back this season. Could the run game become even more prominent to complement Luke Falk’s right arm?

Leach was noncommittal when asked that Thursday, but did say, “I think we have the most productive backs in the league.”

Morrow, for one, hopes…

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