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Husky Football Blog

The latest news and analysis on the Montlake Dawgs.

September 10, 2014 at 1:22 PM

John Ross III’s big-play potential a good problem for the UW offense

John Ross III scores on a 20-yard reverse against Hawaii. (Dean Rutz/The Seattle Times)

John Ross III scores on a 20-yard reverse against Hawaii. (Dean Rutz/The Seattle Times)

It’s a fun problem to have if you’re the coach whose offense just scored 59 points: How do you get the ball more to your best playmaker?

For the Huskies, coming off a stellar offensive performance in the victory over Eastern Washington, that’s not the most pressing question at the moment.

I posed this question anyway to Jonathan Smith: “How are you going to get John Ross the ball more?”

Smith smiled. (You see: a good problem to have.)

“It’s tough. You try to distribute and things. … We’ve give it to him on a reverse every game, so that’s a little traditional now,” UW’s offensive coordinator said. “We’ve got to find ways to do it. If we want to push the pace and tempo, it’s sometimes tougher to isolate a guy in particular.

“He’s on our radar and we’re still working to get him some touches.”

The more, the better, it would seem.

In UW’s first two games, Ross III averaged 27.4 yards every time he touched the ball. That average is by far the best in the Pac-12 and ranks third in the nation. The “problem” is he’s touched the ball just 12 times in two games, half of those on kickoff returns.

Screen Shot 2014-09-10 at 12.51.59 PM

A big chunk of Ross’ 329 all-purpose yards came on that beautiful 91-yard touchdown pass from Jeff Lindquist in Hawaii. Ross also had the 20-yard touchdown run on a reverse. He had another 55-yard TD touchdown catch-and-run from Cyler Miles against EWU.

That the Huskies ran almost at will — 356 yards on the ground — against the Eagles certainly played a part in the play-calling Saturday, and Ross’ big-play potential helps in that regard, too.

“That’s a piece of our ability to run the ball, is when they know John is sitting over here they’ve got to have some answers,” Smith said. “So they go hand in hand.”

Ross, the 179-pound sophomore receiver and kick returner, has four catches for 150 yards in two games. As Smith noted after Wednesday’s practice, part of the “problem” stems from the timing in the passing game, which figures to improve with the more reps Cyler Miles gets at quarterback.

Surely, as Pac-12 play approaches, the Huskies will continue to find other creative ways to get Ross (and Jaydon Mickens) the ball, be it on those fly sweeps or reverses or some trick plays.

Ross also leads the Pac-12 with an average of 25.2 yards on his six kickoff returns this season.

He’s a big-play machine. And, right now, getting him the ball is only a small problem for the Huskies.

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