Newton's Situation Explained, Sort Of — He Didn't Practice Well

The Huskies sophomore tailback didn't play against Utah after an impressive outing against Arizona.

Richard Newton wore a purple and gold uniform for the Utah game but he didn't budge from the sideline in the University of Washington's 24-21 victory. Scored no touchdowns. Contributed no yards. Had no hand in the comeback. 

Which seemed really odd, considering he was coming off an 81-yard, two-touchdown performance against Arizona the week before, breaking off a dazzling 54-yard scoring dash against the Wildcats.

Based on that heady performance, Newton seemed like a logical choice to earn a starting assignment against the Utes — which would have been a career first — in the Huskies' constantly rotating four-player tailback role.

Instead, the 6-foot, 210-pound sophomore from Lancaster, California, just stood and watched.

On Monday, the situation turned even more muddled when Husky coach Jimmy Lake briefly and surprisingly addressed Newton's status by indicating the player didn't practice well.

"Things like that are going to happen," Lake said. "We pride ourselves in our guys performing in practice, making sure they're able to execute in practice and that's going to transition over into games. We're always evaluating and assessing, and we're going to put the the guys in there who we feel are going to give us the best chance to win the game."

Whether or not there's anything more involved, the Husky coach didn't offer it. That he even went there at all was unexpected because Lake previously said he wasn't going to speak about players who didn't play.

Newton has endured a strange second season of active duty. Coming off an 11-touchdown and 498-yard rushing output in 2019, he appeared to be the Huskies' leading tailback candidate. 

Others thought so, too.

He was placed on the Doak Walker watch list, one reserved for the nation's leading running backs. 

The Huskies trotted him out for a virtual media interview during training camp, a duty typically reserved for prominent players.

Newton seemed overly confident and ready to go. 

Yet when the season started, he didn't. 

Senior Kamari Pleasant, previously a third- or fourth-stringer throughout his career vaulted to the top of the depth chart. Senior Sean McGrew was the backup. Newton came onto the field as the third back against Oregon State.

Pleasant has started twice so far, McGrew once. Newton has been left with a pair of support roles.

Newton has run 23 times for 122 yards and two touchdowns this season. He had all zeroes last weekend.

If there's an attitude problem, Lake seems ready to correct it with a strong message. 

If it's just a failure to do the job the right way, the coach seemingly is willing to wait until Newton does what's expected.

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