UW Huskies RB Dillon Johnson has checked off 3 goals, with 2 in sight

Dec 21, 2023, 3:14 PM | Updated: 3:42 pm

UW Huskies Dillon Johnson...

Roger Rosengarten, Dillon Johnson and Camdyn Stiegeler of the UW Huskies celebrate on Dec. 1, 2023. (Ian Maule/Getty Images)

(Ian Maule/Getty Images)

The UW Huskies are known for their high-flying passing game with quarterback Michael Penix Jr. throwing to receivers like Rome Odunze, Jalen McMillan and Ja’Lynn Polk, but they’ve got a pretty good running game, too.

Damon Huard: UW Huskies’ Michael Penix ‘is ready for the NFL’

That rushing attack is anchored by Dillon Johnson, who transferred to Washington from Mississippi State last offseason, and he has been a huge part of Washington’s 13-0 season so far.

Johnson has rushed for 1,113 yards and 14 touchdowns this year as the team’s lead back, and he’s saved his best football for the end of the year.

The Huskies entered a brutal November schedule with USC, Utah, Oregon State and WSU on the schedule. They won those four games and got a rematch with Oregon in the Pac-12 Championship Game.

Across those five games, Johnson rushed for 683 yards and eight touchdowns, including a 256-yard, four-touchdown day at USC.

Johnson also rushed for 152 yards against Oregon in the conference title game.

What made that last game so impressive wasn’t just that the Ducks boast one of the top defenses in football, but that Johnson was severely banged up while dealing with a foot injury.

“I was definitely 55 (percent healthy), for sure. (Either) 55 or 60%,” Johnson told Seattle Sports’ Wyman and Bob on Thursday.

That was on Dec. 1. Now on Dec. 21, Johnson feels much better, and he’s still got some time before the Huskies take on the Texas Longhorns in the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 1.

“Man, I’d definitely say about 85 or 90%. So I’m getting there, man.. I’m definitely getting there,” he said.

Johnson has been stellar in his first year at Washington, and before the season began, he wrote out five goals for himself.

So far, Johnson has checked off three of them: Rushing for over 1,000 yards, winning the Pac-12 and making it to the College Football Playoff.

The two he hasn’t checked off? They’re both well in reach.

“Over 15 touchdowns, I’m one touchdown short, so I’m still working on that one,” he said. “And then I had the national championship, and I’m still working on that. I’m definitely still striving to get my goals, and hopefully I get all five of them.”

UW a “resilient” team

The Huskies are a perfect 13-0, but it hasn’t always come easy and it hasn’t always been pretty.

Over the Huskies’ last nine games, all have come by 10 points or fewer and seven were by one possession.

“We’re a resilient team. I think I can speak for every guy on this team that we’re used to being in those those big moments and those big atmospheres,” Johnson said. “It’s nothing new to us. We have great chemistry. This is the best like family environment team I’ve ever been around. And when things get tough, we lean on each other.

“So I know we gave the fans a heart attack the last seven or eight games, but hey, we’re getting the wins, man. So whatever it takes, that’s what we do. ”

What he sees from Texas

The Huskies’ next opponent, Texas, is 12-1 on the year and won the Big 12 Championship.

The Longhorns are led by former UW head coach Steve Sarkisian, an offensive-minded head coach, but Johnson sees a big challenge in Texas’ defense.

“This front four or five … is elite,” he said.

Johnson pointed to standout linemen Byron Murphy and T’Vondre Sweat as guys that make life hard for opposing offenses.

“Those guys will be playing on Sundays. They’re really good,” Johnson said. “They’ve got a really good defense. They fly around, they’re a physical football team and they play as a unit. It’s gonna be a great test for us, and we’re looking forward to it.”

UW’s O-line the best in the nation

On Thursday, UW received a big honor, with the Huskies’ offensive line winning the coveted Joe Moore Award as the best offensive line in the nation.

Johnson had nothing but great things to say about the group that’s helped pave the way for his success this year.

“I’ve been telling people all year long, man, we’ve got a special group of guys and it starts up front, man,” he said. “They’re all elite. Like I’ve been telling people, I’ve been trying to preach to them all year that we have a special group and those guys deserve that. They’ve worked their butts off in the film room, on the field, off the field. They’re just elite in life in general. And I’m so happy that I was a part of this journey with them and being their backbone with things … We’re just blessed to have those guys out there, and I’m blessed to be a part of their journey.”

More on the UW Huskies

• Chris Petersen’s keys to a UW Huskies win over Texas in CFP
• 247Sports’ Huffman: Where UW Huskies’ 2024 recruiting class stands
• Brock & Damon’s Playoff Preview: Greg McElroy on how UW and Texas compare
• Kalen DeBoer is AP coach of the year after leading UW Huskies to CFP

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UW Huskies RB Dillon Johnson has checked off 3 goals, with 2 in sight