Aztecs still looking for answers at running back with Washington injured


Abraham Jewett

Redshirt freshman Chance Bell runs the ball during the Aztecs’ 16-13 win over San Jose State at SDCCU Stadium on Oct. 20.

by Aaron Tolentino, Assistant Sports Editor

Junior running back Juwan Washington was dressed in sweatpants and a hoodie during San Diego State’s 16-13 win over San Jose State on Oct. 20.

The Aztecs could have used Washington dressed in shoulder pads and a helmet.

Chase Jasmin was expected to assume the starting running back role after Washington went down with a collarbone injury against Eastern Michigan University over a month ago.

However, things have not entirely panned out for the up-and-coming sophomore, who suffered a setback against Air Force after being diagnosed with a concussion that limited him heading into this past weekend.

Jasmin’s 19 attempts still led the way against the Spartans, but he shared the bulk of the carries with redshirt freshman Chance Bell, who finished with 15 carries for 81 yards of his own.

Head coach Rocky Long said he did not see consistent play from any of his running backs during the team’s victory over the Spartans.

“None of them separated themselves from the other ones,” Long said. “I don’t see the consistency of them finding the holes and gaining positive yards.”

Long said the Aztecs are searching for a starter who can carry the load, but also have someone who can come in and take over when needed.

“We’re looking for a guy that we think can carry it 20 to 25 times and have a backup that can carry it 10 to 15 times,” Long said.

Each running back brings a different skill set to the team, and Jasmin has shown the ability to be a workhorse after carrying the ball 26 times against Boise State.

Jasmin said the competition between the running backs brings out the best in him.

“Without competition, you get lazy, you get lackadaisical,” Jasmin said. “I feel like the competition keeps everybody on edge, everybody performing at their peak.”

Bell appeared to serve as Jasmin’s understudy against the Spartans, and the coaching staff got a chance to see his talents on the field for the first time.

Offensive coordinator Jeff Horton said Bell provided a spark for the offense.

“Bell stepped up and provided some juice and energy,” Horton said. “(He had) a couple big runs, seems to be playing fast, hitting it downhill, so that was a bright spot.” 

Another option for the Aztecs is the aforementioned Byrd, a speed back who showed how dangerous he can be in the open field after turning a toss into a 72-yard touchdown run against Boise State earlier this month.

“Obviously, with (Byrd) it’s speed,” Horton said. “Hopefully, we can get him out into space and create some things for him.”

The final back to watch is Williams who like Byrd has good speed and has also shown he can be an asset in both the run and pass game.

Williams got the first four carries against SJSU and got first-team reps in practice that week.

“He’s a good receiver. He’s got good hands, good route awareness,” Horton said. “He played a lot of that slot (receiver) in high school. I think we utilize him some different ways that way too.”

No matter who the Aztecs end up going with, they will likely take a backseat when Washington returns to the lineup.