Huskies Myles Gaskin on the Buckeyes, and last college football game

When the Pac-12 Champions Washington Huskies (10-3 overall, 7-2 Pac-12 ) football team steps onto the field on January 1st, 2019 to take on the Big Ten Champions Ohio State Buckeyes (12-1, 8-1) in the 105 Rose Bowl game, the event will be the last collegiate game for many players on both sides.

While its easy for players and coaches to get nostalgic about the end of the collegiate journey both on and off the football UW running back Myles Gaskin is focused on finishing his Husky career with a win. Gaskin is the Huskies all-time leading rusher with 5,202 yards and the only Pac-12 running back to rush for 1,000 yards in four seasons

HUSKY RUNNING BACK MYLES GASKIN

How do you like it so far? 

It’s good out here. It’s nice.

You feeling all right?

 Feeling great.

Get some time with the family and all that good stuff?

 They left Christmas morning, so I had Christmas on Christmas Eve. But did all the things that matter, be around family, give out some gifts.

Did you have anything specific you asked for for Christmas? Did you get everything you wished for?

 Yeah, everything. It’s just time. I just like being with the family and hanging out.

This is your first time at the Rose Bowl, obviously. Have you gotten a sense the last few weeks, whether it’s from alumni or just the fans and the feeling around town and all that, kind of what this means and what you guys have accomplished here?

 Absolutely. Just being around, coming back home, or just kind of walking around anywhere, kind of realize that people recognize you a little more often and just say, hey, man, best of luck in the Rose Bowl. It’s kind of like, man, everybody knows about this one. It’s not a regular one at all. It’s a great feeling to have to have the city behind us all the way, and everyone is going to be watching. It’s exciting.

You got to sit next to Coach Pete on the roller coaster yesterday.

 He thought it was funny. I don’t like roller coasters, but I was going to have fun at Disneyland regardless. So it was cool.

The whole team got to do it and everything? Yeah, everybody.

You guys spent the afternoon there? Yeah, everyone got to go on everything they wanted for the most part. Disneyland, those people took care of us real well. Had a lot of fun. Might have to go back.

This is your guys’ third straight New Year’s Six Bowl. Is it a different feeling this time? Obviously, being a senior, it’s your last one, but also kind of going through experiences like this, just the obligations and the build-up to it. I guess what is different about this type of event? 

I think each one is different, like a lot different, just kind of city, what type of things that go on throughout the week. But this one you realize how big it is. Just being around Disneyland, there’s already a huge bunch of Ohio State fans and UW fans, kind of just go dogs or go bucks and stuff like that. So you kind of realize that everybody is already here for this game and just kind of waiting on edge.

I think that’s the biggest thing for me. I mean, we went to Disneyland. That’s pretty huge. Outside of that, I mean, once it comes to the game stuff, it’s not any different because it’s a Bowl game. It’s just a football game. We’ve just got to do what we always do.

Have you found yourself at all reflecting on your career or anything like that as you kind of inch closer to your last game here and playing with these guys?

 No, I haven’t. I probably should, but I think I’m going to wait until after the season, maybe a couple years from now. I think I’m just kind of having a lot of fun right now. So there’s no reason to reflect on anything right now. Just enjoy it all, and then once it’s all over, then reflect, I guess.

The season ended for you guys, a lot of momentum, a couple of big victories there. Do you feel like you’re kind of at the peak in terms of your confidence and the way you guys are playing on the field and all that? 

Yeah, I think we got better, but even in those games that we won, there were some big hiccups, there were some things that we can get better from. I wouldn’t say peaked. I think we’ve just got to learn from those things, and I think those Bowl practices we had before we came out here were a lot of help for us. We were practicing real hard. I mean, just excited. Just excited.

With this, Chris Petersen last week was talking about they were kind of looking at the preparation, looking at the last couple years and the way you guys practiced leading up to the Bowl game. Has there been anything noticeably different for the way you guys approach or how you’re going about things the last couple weeks?

 I think we’re a little bit more – not a little bit, I think we’re a lot more focused. I think, just being older, we’ve got a lot of more older guys, and you kind of realize just them bringing along the younger guys to watch film or after practice work on certain techniques or pull a guy to the side. Even the young guys tell me now, hey, you could have done this on that.

I think everybody is a lot more focused on this team. I’ve been on four different teams, and I would say this is probably one of the most focused teams I’ve been on. So I’m excited for that and for those guys in the future once I’m long gone. So I think it’s going to be cool.

How has Jake kind of handled the criticism at times this season?

 I think he handles it well because you guys – I mean, not you guys, but the media is the only people that criticize him. I don’t think anybody on this team criticizes him. At the end of the day, it’s just a lot of voices that really don’t matter and many people’s opinion.

But people, there is sort of a natural inclination to look at what he did when you guys went to the playoff and sort of compare and contrast production to that year. 

I think a lot of people that compare that don’t know much about football, like the media. Just, I mean, it’s different teams. There’s not – who was on that team? John Ross. It’s a whole different team. So you can’t really compare that. Guys got older. Guys got better. I think just different things happen for different teams. So you can’t compare that.

If you play football, you know like nothing that happened last year is guaranteed to happen the next year. I think that’s just a weird opinion, but that’s other people’s.

What one or two areas has Jake improved the most over the course of his career? 

I think the way he scrambles. Half of our – not half of our – but a lot of our offense comes from scramble plays, and he always makes a big time throw or scrambles for a first down. Jake is always good for a huge first down in games, and I think that kind of shows his heart. And as a leader, that’s some things that people really don’t get to see, but him as a freshman, he was a leader, but now he’s like not just the freshman quarterback that has to be the leader. He’s the leader of this offense, leader of this team.

I think that guy takes this program to where it is right now from freshman year, and a lot of people probably don’t know that because they’re not in the locker room, which is not anyone’s fault. I think that’s my biggest thing because I don’t really look up to a lot of people, especially people my age, but I look up to Jake because of what he does and how he brings his enthusiasm, his leadership every day. I envy that in him. He’s a great leader.

People hear that word leadership a lot. I mean, what are you thinking about when you say he’s a good leader? I mean, what sort of things do you see to make that show up?

 Every morning, I mean, I’m not going to lie. I’m not the most morning person. I didn’t want to wake up this morning. But I know he isn’t either. No one really wants to be, very few people. You come in the locker room, and when we get to meetings, Jake has pen and paper, and you kind of see it, and you see that like, hey, man, if you want to get better, that’s what you need to do. When we get out to practice, it’s not we’re starting slow today and just kind of easy pace. Jake is going 100 percent.

If you’re not, he’s yelling at you, bring it up, come on, come on. Either you’re going to listen to him, or he’s going to get annoying. So you’re going to have to make the decision to pick up the pace or do whatever you need to do, what he’s telling you to do, and he stays consistent with that every single day.

I think that’s the biggest part of being a leader. A leader is not just a few times out of the week or just game day. Jake brings it every single day. And on game day, I think, he doesn’t really have to say much because he’s led throughout each week and kind of told us things. Especially in practice actually, he’ll pull us to the side, like the running backs, and say, hey, this defense doesn’t do this so well or they do this for this look, so we might not go to that. He’s trying to coach us up as much as our coaches. So I think that’s what a leader is in my eyes and everybody else’s eyes on this team.

How do you think fans should remember him, or how do you hope fans remember him? 

As a great teammate, great quarterback at the University of Washington. A dude that was always ready to work. A dude that took his ups and downs and learned from each one of his downs and came back and got better from them. And a dude that was just always hungry, that always will be hungry.

I can’t say enough about him, but he’s – I’ve never met a dude like Jake. So just a unique guy, and then off the field he’s a great guy to every single one of the guys on this team. He’s a good friend, and I think we all love him. I mean, we all love each other. So it’s not like just about him.

So when did you set your alarm for this morning? I got the – what’s it called? The wakeup call at 8:30.

That’s not bad. That’s not that bad, but it ain’t that good (laughter).

Now you guys have had to look at Ohio State, what can you say about their defense?

 They play fast. They play real fast. They’ve got some big guys over there on that side of the ball, and they just play hard. I think that’s the mark of a good defense, just guys that always run to the ball. I mean, schemes are schemes, and they do have great schemes, but none of that works without guys that are just really hungry to get to the ball, running the ball, and that type of stuff.

You watch it, you watch any game, and you see 11 guys running to the ball even if it’s like a screen or a downfield pass, like that, you see guys turning and running. So I think that’s kind of the separator from good to great or just average to really good. So I think those guys – and they’ve got some great athletes already. They don’t just have regular athletes. They’ve got five star recruits, guys that really know how to play ball, and they’ve got those types of guys doing that. So I think that’s a huge thing for them, and it’s going to be a real big challenge for us. I think we’re all excited for it, though.

Other than the early wakeup call, how’s the trip been so far?

 It’s been great. I’m just joking about waking up early. It ain’t nothing. It’s been great. Disneyland was great. Being out here is great. I love Seattle, but it’s sunny here, and it’s not raining, so I can’t be mad about that. I haven’t done much else, but we’ll see as the week goes on. So excited.

Aaron was saying it’s nice to have it not just be football, football, football all the time this week. What’s it like to have that balance?

You’ve got to balance it. It’s fun, but you’ve got to balance it. Sometimes you kind of – I feel like, I looked at our schedule the other day, and you can see we have a lot of events, and then we do got to play a football game. I know he knows how to balance it, but young guys, probably on both sides, both teams, will kind of get real excited for the events and kind of forget we’ve got a game to play. But I was one of those guys myself, so it is what it is. You learn from it.

Yeah, I mean, it’s fun to have these opportunities to do these things. A lot of people have never been to Disneyland. A lot of people are not really going to do what we’re about to do this week. Just got to enjoy each and every thing when it’s the right time to enjoy it.

You mentioned the younger guys. Is that something you try to prepare them for?

 Yeah. You just kind of let them know like, once we get to practice, it’s practice. Don’t be worrying about what we’re going to do later, or as soon as we get off the field, I’m going to go do this. I don’t want to hear none of that.

So just stay focused. That’s the biggest thing. I think they do a great job at it anyways, but you don’t want to ever just not say something and to have that slip between the cracks. We’re just going to make sure those guys are getting taken care of, even the older guys too. It’s not just a young guy thing. You’ve just got to know what the difference is between fun time and practice and getting ready for the game.

We talked about Ohio State, and I was talking to Aaron about it a little bit, the kind of trick plays you guys run. How much fun is that?

 It’s a lot of fun. It’s nervous. You get nervous, but it’s a lot of fun. The fact that they give us – I guess they trust us to run some type of play like that. It’s fun, though. It’s cool.

So nervous, is it nerve-racking when it’s called? In practice. We’ve practiced it so many times that in the game it’s not nerve-racking, but in practice when you see a play, you’re like, man, how does that work? Then kind of run it a few times and you’re like, okay, it’s working, but it’s fun.

The Ohio State defense has been gashed by a lot of big plays. That’s kind of been their Achilles heel. Is there anything you see in their defense that can explain that? You say they’re athletic and talented, but they still give up a ton of big plays.

 That’s a great question for them. I don’t know. Like I said, I don’t have nothing to say. It’s hard. It happens to them. It happens to us sometimes. You can’t win every down. That’s a part of football. But like I said, you they do play hard. So at the end of the day, that’s kind of the weird thing to see about, you see a team give up like an 80-yard run, and they come back like it’s the beginning of the game, all hyped up and stuff like that.

So it’s not going to be a lay down type of fight if you get up big, so I think that’s the biggest thing for us to know that these guys are going to play us to the very end. That’s how we want it. I think that’s how they want it as well. This is the Rose Bowl. This is a big game. A lot of people are going to be watching, so we’ll make it exciting.

Does it feel bigger, even though it is the Rose Bowl, to have two teams with kind of powerhouse traditions to play in a game like this?

 Yeah, absolutely. But at the end of the day, it is just football. So you kind of get all this media stuff, all this Bowl stuff, and get caught up in it all. But at the end of the day, it is football. We’ve all been playing football for a very long time. So just kind of calm that all down and just get ready to play.

You mentioned the defense. As a running back, I guess, what do you think about more, the fact that they gave that 80-yard run up or the way they responded to maybe shut the guy down the next – for the rest of the game even?

 I think that’s the more important thing. Everybody is going to have their plays, but just kind of seeing the defense always ready to bounce back and play better from that play or learning from what happened in that play, just in a separate series, not in the whole, oh, we learn next week, like they learn not to give that up again, so I feel like that’s huge. I feel like that’s what we’ve got to be ready for and just be ready to fight.

Does the defense remind you of any team you played?

 No, I don’t think. I think this is the best team we’ve played this year. Yeah, I think this is the best team we’ve played this year.

Why?

 Just for the reason of just how they play in the sense that they’ve got all pretty much five star recruits. I don’t know personally, but they’ve got probably the most athletic dudes in the country on that team, and they play as hard as they do. They play no downs off, and they bring some stuff on defense blitz-wise. So I think that’s probably the most separating thing, I believe.

But, yeah, like I said, any defense that runs to the ball, all 11 guys run to the ball, it doesn’t really – I mean, I think that’s the most important thing. A scheme is a scheme, but it takes effort to play defense – and offense, but especially defense. You’ve just got to turn and run, and those guys do that.

Which guys specifically on Ohio State, the athletic guys you’re talking about? Do any of them stand up above? 

I think they’re all athletic for their position. I mean, absolutely athletic because they play football, but like their DBs, all fast, D-line all turn and run, their D-ends. I’m not sure of many names, but all those guys turn and run real fast, and the linebackers run to the ball. So I wouldn’t say any one person is more athletic than the other. They just all do their job very well.

Myles Gaskin Audio
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