Washington tailback Bishop Sankey left Las Vegas in December with some hollow hardware.
He was MVP of the MAACO Bowl Las Vegas, but his performance wasnt enough to lead the Huskies past Boise State.
On Saturday night at Husky Stadium in Seattle, Sankey gets another shot.
A big focus has been our ability to finish down the stretch, Sankey, a junior, said. We had some trouble with that. All offseason, its been a point of emphasis.
Sankey rushed 30 times for 205 yards and a touchdown and caught six passes for 74 yards in the two-point loss. His 279 yards from scrimmage accounted for 62.4 percent of the Huskies offense.
So while he has unfinished business in the 2013 opener, so do the Broncos. The program that is proud of its consistently gritty defense couldnt contain Sankey.
Hes got that killer spin move that when he starts to get wrapped up, he tends to go to, Boise State junior linebacker Corey Bell said. Hes just a good back. Hes a smart guy, it seems. Were just going to have to do our best to try to slow him down.
Boise State coach Chris Petersen said after the bowl game he was worried about Sankey because of his talent and the layoff before the bowl, which often leads to sloppy tackling.
Season openers also tend to feature a lot of missed tackles.
Hes a physical runner hard to tackle, defensive coordinator Pete Kwiatkowski said. He broke a lot of tackles against us last year, made guys miss. Hes going to do that, so weve got to do a good job of getting off blocks and getting more than one guy to the ballcarrier. Relentless pursuit, running to the ball, is the key.
Even that wasnt enough in Las Vegas, senior defensive tackle Ricky Tjong-A-Tjoe said.
Hes fast, he said. I had a couple plays that I was trying to chase him down the line of scrimmage and he was gone because he was way too fast. Ive got to take better angles than that.
Sankey was the offensive feel-good story of 2012 for the Huskies, who finished 97th in the nation in total offense and 88th in scoring.
Sankey, who rushed for 187 yards as a freshman out of Gonzaga Prep in Spokane, topped 100 yards in seven of the last 11 games as a sophomore. He accumulated 185 touches (carries and catches) in the final six games a massive workload.
He finished with 1,439 rushing yards (No. 3 in school history) and 16 rushing touchdowns (No. 2).
Its a testament to how well we prepared as a unit and to the offensive line, Sankey said. We got off to a bit of a slow start, but we kept at it. Thats a credit to the guys who pushed me and helped me along.
Sankey (5-foot-10, 203 pounds) should benefit from an offensive line that coach Steve Sarkisian expects to be the best in his five-year tenure and a passing game that includes two of the Pac-12s top receivers.
Sankey also has improved.
As many plays as he made, Washington safety Sean Parker said, theres a lot of room for improvement. Hes taken that to heart.
Said Sankey: Im not bigger. I just feel like Ive been stronger, quicker and faster.
Thats a bad combination for anyone hoping to tackle him.
The Broncos will send a mostly new wave of defenders at Sankey. Only three bowl starters return in the front seven.
Hes a low-center-of-gravity guy, Petersen said. If you just run into him, hes not going down. Youre going to have to tackle him and hang on for dear life.
Chadd Cripe: 377-6398, Twitter: @IDS_BroncoBeat