Good morning. Remember when there was a tinge of doubt regarding whether stud running back Max Borghi would return to WSU for another season? While it never seemed like he was leaning toward moving on, there was certainly the possibility that Max would want to take his chances at earning a living. Turns out he was never really close to departing Pullman before the 2021 season, as he told the Spokesman Review.
“I think for me it was a pretty easy decision,” Borghi told reporters Saturday after the team’s second spring scrimmage. “Obviously last season didn’t go how I wanted it to, as far as just with COVID and then obviously I played one game out of four. That wasn’t what I wanted. I want a breakout year, I want a big year. I need a big year. So that’s why I’m back, I’m back for a big year...I’m back to be the best running back in the country.”
We are all for Max getting his moment in the sun as one of the nation’s top running backs. But there is another talented back currently at WSU, as we saw during 2020’s truncated “season.” In Borghi’s injury-induced absence, Deon McIntosh stepped up and flashed some enormous potential. This makes for a great situation behind whomever is taking snaps for the Cougars in 2021, as there are two rock-solid options to carry the ball and catch passes. Borghi is excited about the opportunity, as he told Theo Lawson
“Me and Deon just want to be so great together. We push each other every single day,” Borghi said. “We’re both really competitive guys and I think it just brings the nature out of both of us and I think the season’s going to be a good season. I think we’re a real good two-headed monster. Obviously you know what he’s capable of and you know what I’m capable of and we’re just taking it day by day and getting better each and every practice and we’re excited for this season. It’s going to be a big one.”
That got me to wondering about some of the best WSU single-season running back duos throughout history, so let’s have a look, shall we? Now, I’m not counting those times when a combo ran for, say, more than 2,000 yards but one guy was responsible for 1,900 of them, ala Jerome Harrison. I also recognize that there were a couple instances, such as 2016, where WSU had three solid options. However, I’m going top two. So, in chronological order, let’s have a look at a completely non-exhaustive list of nominees.
Bernard Jackson and Ken Grandberry, 1971
Blast from the past! While Jackson is pretty well known in WSU lore, I’ll admit to never having heard of Mr. Grandberry. Turns out he was good enough to merit a Chicago Bears 8th Round pick in the NFL Draft. In 1971, Jackson and Grandberry combined to rush for 1,815 yards and 14 touchdowns, averaging 6.5 yards per carry.
Kerry Porter and Rueben Mayes, 1985
Ahh yes, a pair of the famed “RPM” triumvirate from the Jim Walden days. Still hilarious that Jim had Mark Rypien running the option. This one is a bit tricky, as Porter’s best year (1,000 yards in 1983) was also Mayes’ least-productive. Then Mayes started destroying people in ‘84 and ‘85, and Porter’s numbers went down.
Mayes racked up the lion’s share of the stats in 1984 (1,637 yards, 11 TDs), but they balanced out (a little) in 1985, with Mayes amassing 1,236 and 10, while Porter rushed for 441 and five. Interestingly, Porter played an additional season, meaning that he somehow played in 11 games four times, and eight games in 1985. No doubt Porter would bolstered the duo’s stat line if he hadn’t missed a quarter of the 1985 season.
Rich Swinton and Steve Broussard, 1988
After mostly innocuous seasons, Broussard and Swinton exploded onto the scene in 1988, as both of them exceeded 1,000 yards rushing. Swinton collected 1,108 and Broussard ran for 1,280. They combined to score 17 rushing touchdowns and averaged 5.2 YPC. They also caught a combined 25 passes and scored two additional touchdowns. Broussard’s usage went up the next season, and he exceeded 1,200 yards again, but Swinton mostly disappeared, rushing for only 407 yards over his final two seasons.
James “Boobie” Williams and Jamal Morrow, 2016
There’s no question that WSU had two (and sometimes three) legitimate threats at running back for a string of several years. I chose 2016 as one of the better years because Boobie and Morrow absolutely tore it up. They combined to rush for 1,160 yards (6+ YPC) / 11 TDs and, because Air Raid, caught an additional 96 passes (!) for another 830 yards and six more touchdowns.
James “Boobie” Williams and Max Borghi, 2018
Nice little spell here! The yards from scrimmage are similar (2017 Morrow and Williams were close as well) but the touchdowns went through the roof. Borghi and Boobie combined for 1913 yards from scrimmage (926 rushing / 987 receiving) and scored an eye-popping 28 touchdowns between them. If Boobie hadn’t left a year of eligibility on the table, all of those numbers may well have increased in 2019.
If the Max and McIntosh (Maxintosh?) combo is able to approach the yardage and touchdown numbers from some of the recent seasons, the offense will be in mighty fine shape.
So, uh, do I want to ask why Borghi is wearing spandex undershorts that feature Euro notes in the Spokesman Review photo? No, no I don’t.
Additionally, WSU held another scrimmage on Saturday, and by my count, at least eight guys who will be relied on heavily in 2021 didn’t participate, for one reason or another.
Lot of notable players were absent/didn't participate: Abe Lucas, Liam Ryan, Jayden de Laura, Dallas Hobbs, Dillon Sherman, Ron Stone, Daniel Isom, Willie Taylor, Brennan Jackson, Jouvensly Bazil, Billy Pospisil, Marquise Freeman, Antonio Pule, Nicholas Sheetz.— Theo Lawson (@TheoLawson_SR) April 17, 2021
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