While Joe Mathis is undoubtedly a big loss, the Washington Huskies have more than enough talent to continue winning without their sack leader.
Chris Petersen held his regular Monday press conference and everything was running fairly smoothly as usual. However, the Washington Huskies‘ head coach suddenly dropped a bombshell in the most casual and matter-of-fact manner possible – Joe Mathis was going to miss the rest of the season.
Petersen said: “He’s had a lot of things to weather, and he’s done a really good job with it. It’s unfortunate that he can’t finish his senior year out here.”
As the media tried to process whether they’d just misheard what coach Petersen said — at least this journalist was — he continued: “He’s such a good player for us and all those things.
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“I think all the things that he’s been through, on the field, off the field, have put him in a position to handle this one better. He’ll get his foot fixed and try to keep playing.”
One of the most frustrating things for everyone concerned, is how Mathis’ injury happened in the first place. The ligament tear in his toe occurred three weeks ago, while jogging during practice.
It goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway, that the loss of Mathis is a massive blow for the Huskies. Despite missing the last three games, he was still the team leader with five sacks, while also being tied with 7.5 tackles for a loss.
In that respect, there has to be some genuine concern about how the Huskies’ defense will deal with his absence. After piling up the sacks with the Ontario, California native in the lineup, they have managed just three without him.
Petersen confirmed the decision for Mathis to have surgery came towards the end of last week: “He was rehabbing, rehabbing, (but) everybody thinks it’s best if he got some surgery and got it fixed the right way.”
Like the rest of us, the Huskies had not anticipated this being the case: “That’s one of our guys right there that we thought would be down for a game or two, and it turns out to be a little bit different.”
Connor O’Brien has filled in for the last three weeks and will now continue to play at the Buck linebacker position. So far this season, the junior has recorded two sacks, 23 tackles — including 5.5 for a loss — and one interception.
Despite the loss of Mathis being significant, the Huskies have already shown they can survive without him. Given their lofty ambitions this season, they have more than enough talent to continue winning.
In some respects, it seems almost unbelievable that the senior’s Huskies’ career is over. In that respect, he appears to be thinking the same.
Speaking to Adam Jude of The Seattle Times on Monday evening, Mathis said: “If we go to the Rose Bowl, I’m coming back.
“I’m thankful for Coach Pete and all the coaches and everything they’ve done for me, but I wanted to let everyone know I’m gonna be back. I’m gonna be back.”
Whether this is wishful thinking or not remains to be seen. Regardless, Huskies players and fans alike will be hoping they are in a position to give him that potential opportunity.
Do you believe Mathis will return in time for the Bowl season, or is he being too optimistic? Further, how do you think the Huskies’ defense will do, without their leading pass rusher? Let us know in the comments section below.