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WSU by the numbers: Earth, Wind and Fire

Believe it or not, Mike Leach runs the football. Pretty well, too.

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

There was an expectation heading into this season that the Cougars, who have yet to produce a single running back with more than 87 rushing attempts or more than 430 rushing yards in a single season under Mike Leach, would place a bigger emphasis on running the football.

And they've certainly done so.

Redshirt sophomore Gerard Wicks has already amassed 78 totes through eight games, leading a rushing attack that's averaging close to 100 yards per game, not counting sack yardage because, well, obviously.

The numbers aren't going to wow you, but Wicks, Jamal Morrow and Keith Harrington -- also collectively known as Earth, Wind and Fire, as termed by Morrow -- are on pace to put together one of the most efficient combined rushing seasons a Leach offense has produced.

Washington State 2015 season (13-game pace)
Class Name Gm Att Yards Avg TD
RSo. Gerard Wicks 8 73 400 5.5 2
13-game pace 118 650 5.5 3
RSo. Jamal Morrow 6 29 188 6.5 0
13-game pace 53 344 6.5 0
RFr. Keith Harrington 8 27 205 7.6 1
13-game pace 43 333 7.6 2
TOTAL 129 793 6.1 3
PACE 209 1,288 6.1 5

The Cougars are on pace to run it roughly 209 times with their top three backs, the most since Marcus Mason, Teondray Caldwell and Jeremiah Laufasa toted the rock 172 times in 2013, though that group only managed to rush for 857 yards in 13 games (4.9 yards per carry). Wicks, Morrow and Harrington will likely surpass that number in game nine vs. Arizona State this weekend.

Harrington is on pace to rush for 7.6 yards per carry, which would be the most yards per rush by any Leach running back over a full season. As a unit, Wicks, Morrow and Harrington are on track to rush for nearly 6.1 yards per carry this season, which would mark the second-best yards per carry average for a Mike Leach rushing attack, trailing only his 2003 Texas Tech squad whose running back duo averaged 6.3 yards per carry.

Texas Tech 2003 Season
Class Name Gm Att Yards Avg TD
RSo. Taurean Henderson 13 124 736 5.9 10
RJr. Johnnie Mack 13 42 307 7.3 4

The touchdowns numbers on the ground for Wicks, Harrington and Morrow certainly aren't there, as they're on pace for just five rushing touchdowns this season (four receiving), though, while certainly a bonus, that's not what's entirely important here, especially for an offense that's second in the conference in red zone offense.

Wicks, Morrow and Harrington -- on pace to become the first trio of running backs under Leach to each run for at least 300 yards in a season -- are forcing defenses to account for them. No longer can defensive coordinators drop seven in coverage and rely on a four-man rush to obliterate any run attempt.

You have to account for everyone on this offense, and behind one of the best offensive lines the Cougars have assembled in recent memory, you almost expect this unit to continue to get better down the stretch.