Washington’s starting linebacker Joe Mathis will miss the rest of the season due to a foot injury.
Chris Petersen’s Huskies have lived up to the hype so far this season with a perfect 9-0 record, a likely Pac-12 title game appearance on its way, and a potential trip to the College Football Playoff.
However, all three may be in jeopardy now.
On Monday, Petersen announced that Joe Mathis, Washington’s starting outside linebacker, will miss the rest of the season with a foot injury, which requires surgery. The 6-foot-2, 255-pound senior had missed the last three games and leads the Huskies with five sacks. He’s also racked up 25 total tackles and 7.5 tackles for loss.
Prior to the season, Washington was primed to have one of the best defensive units in all of college football, and it has, to date, lived up to the billing. The Huskies rank No. 11 in scoring defense (17 points/game), No. 18 in total defense (329.8 yards/game), No. 13 in passing defense (181.9 yards/game) and No. 43 in rushing defense (147.89 yards/game).
With Mathis’ ability to rush the passer leading the way, Washington also ranks No. 13 in the nation with 27 sacks totaled for a loss of 159 yards — three sacks per game. Of those 27 sacks, 24 were recorded with Mathis healthy. So, he’ll definitely be missed in the front seven.
It’ll be up to guys like Psalm Wooching (4.5 sacks), Vita Vea (3.5 sacks) and Greg Gaines (3.5 sacks) to help make up for the loss of Mathis in terms of providing pressure within the pocket.
Azeem Victor and Keishawn Bierria were already forces to be reckoned with in the linebacking core, but they might have to shoulder a little bit more responsibility or pressure than before now that Mathis is done for the year. However, junior Connor O’Brien has started in place of Mathis in the last three games and recorded 16 total tackles and one sack in that time.
The Huskies already had linebacker Sean Constantine sidelined for the season with an ankle injury, but that has been the extent of their injuries. For the most part, they’ve stayed healthy — always a key part of the game with a national CFP berth at stake.