Washington's worst fears for linebacker Joe Mathis have been confirmed. Meeting with reporters on Monday, coach Chris Petersen said the senior is out for the year with a foot injury, for which Mathis will have surgery.
Foot injury for Mathis. Petersen says the decision to shut him down was made last week. Big loss— Dave Softy Mahler (@Softykjr) November 7, 2016
Mathis originally sustained his injury last month and missed the past three games. The initial timeline for his return was unclear, though a report from the Seattle Times stated Mathis was "week to week."
Losing Mathis for any amount of time is bad, but this is a big setback for a defense -- a team -- that has College Football Playoff aspirations. At the time of his injury, Mathis led the team with five sacks -- which still holds. The hybrid edge rusher had two sacks a season ago and was a part of one of the most feared defensive front sevens in college football.
Connor O'Brien has been starting in Mathis' place and has 16 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss and a sack in the past three games. Despite the loss of Mathis, the Huskies remained ranked among the top 25 scoring defenses in October and recorded six quarterback hurries in a win over Cal. Washington has been doing fine without Mathis, but to know he wouldn't be able to make a potential playoff run is a tough break longterm.