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Film School: Breaking down Richard Newton’s first career touch

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Richard Newton runs into the end zone for a touchdown in the first quarter of of Washington’s season opener against Eastern Washington University at Husky Stadium on Aug. 31, 2019.

Football is back, and that means we finally have new film to go over. This week, we’re looking at the No. 13 Washington football team’s running game in its 47-14 win over Eastern Washington, which had two main questions coming in. First, could Salvon Ahmed handle the workload of a No. 1 tailback? And second, how would the other tailbacks shape up in supporting roles?

The answer to the first question was a tentative yes, with Ahmed carrying the ball a career-high 15 times, though he only finished with 44 yards. For the answer to the second, let’s go to the tape.

Fourth-and-2, ball on the EWU 23-yard line, 10:31 remaining the first quarter

Newton Screen Grab

Chris Petersen is rolling the dice on his very first possession of the season, passing up a 40-yard field goal, and he’s doing it out of the wildcat.

There are three running backs in the formation: Redshirt freshman Richard Newton, set up to take the snap, junior Kamari Pleasant, lined up next to him as a blocker, and Ahmed, down at the bottom of the formation.

One of those three is a redshirt freshman who has never carried the ball before in a college game. Another is a man who played as a true freshman and is going to be tasked with taking the lead in replacing Myles Gaskin. And the Eagles know which one is which.

Newton Gif 1

Ahmed comes across the formation, and at the snap, right guard Jaxson Kirkland pulls to the left side, with center Nick Harris and left guard Luke Wattenberg blocking down on their respective defensive linemen. Eastern is expecting a jet sweep, and the Huskies look like they’re running one. But instead, Newton keeps it and runs right up the gut. 

There are three middle linebackers and a safety who have a hope of making a play. The safety, Anthany Smith (No. 29) crashes to the outside to keep leverage on Ahmed. The strongside linebacker does the same. That leaves the middle linebacker, Jack Sendelbach (No. 8) and the weakside linebacker, Chris Ojoh (No. 58).

Ojoh tries to keep his eyes on Newton, but ends up on the wrong side of the logjam at the line of scrimmage, and doesn’t have time to recover. Sendelbach takes a couple steps to his right, still looking for the sweep, and that gives left tackle Trey Adams enough time to get downfield and put a block on him.

Newton Gif 2

By the time Newton hits the line of scrimmage, nobody is even close to him. Pleasant doesn’t even have anyone to block; he actually ends up hitting Newton as they get to the hole together.

Newton ended up going for a game-high 91 yards on 12 carries, getting more rushes than Pleasant and Sean McGrew combined. It’s way too early to say whether the redshirt freshman is going to become Washington’s No. 2 back, but it is interesting to see the coaching staff give him so many chances in his first game.

Reach Managing Editor Josh Kirshenbaum at Twitter: @J_Kirshenbaum

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