The Washington Huskies didn’t need outside linebacker Joe Mathis on Saturday, dominating Oregon State in a 41-17 blowout that was never close and never in question.
But the senior pass rusher’s absence due to an undisclosed injury was still concerning because of what it might mean for Washington in the next few weeks, particularly when the Huskies travel to Salt Lake City for next weekend’s game at 19th-ranked Utah.
Mathis wore his jersey, sweatpants and a beanie as he cheered from the sideline, and seemed to be in relatively good spirits. He leads the team with five sacks this season, and is tied for the team lead with 7.5 tackles for loss.
UW coach Chris Petersen didn’t put a timeline on Mathis’ potential return, saying only that “We’re optimistic we can get Joe back in there soon. I don’t know when, but soon.”
Fourth-year junior Connor O’Brien started in Mathis’ place at buck linebacker and finished with four tackles and the team’s only sack. Washington’s defense adapted well enough to the absence of Mathis and backup strongside linebacker Tevis Bartlett, who also missed the game due to an apparent injury.
UW defensive coordinator Pete Kwiatkowski said the Huskies’ pass rush was “OK,” and that OSU didn’t give the Huskies many opportunities to actually get to the quarterback.
“Schematically, they were doing some stuff where they were leaving extra guys in to protect, and they were also getting the ball out pretty quick,” Kwiatkowski said. ‘We were around them. I don’t think we got very many sacks today, but we were around them. Sometimes your pass rush and how successful you are is dictated by the offense. If they’re going to get the ball out quick, all we can do is be around them and make them feel us, and I thought we did an OK job with that.”
Starting defensive lineman Elijah Qualls sat out the first quarter for disciplinary reasons, Kwiatkowski said.
The Huskies did get two players back who missed their last game due to injury — sophomore receiver Chico McClatcher and fifth-year senior offensive lineman Shane Brostek. McClatcher played but did not record a statistic. Brostek did not start, but played significantly at right guard, sharing reps at the position with Andrew Kirkland and true freshman Nick Harris.
SLIDE NEXT TIME
UW quarterback Jake Browning lowered his head near the goal line and took a bigger hit than his coach would have liked on the Huskies’ second possession of the game.
Browning picked up a first down on the play, and scored on a 1-yard touchdown run two plays later. And he said afterward that he only tried to hard to score on the previous play — a 10-yard scramble — because he thought it was third down, not second down.
“For some reason I was thinking third down, go get the first down,” Browning said. “I need to go down there. It’s a long season. There’s a lot of quarterbacks in the Pac-12 getting hurt, and that can hurt the teams. I need to go down there.”
Said Petersen, who added Browning is usually a smart runner: “Those are not the shots we want that guy to take. We don’t want our quarterback to take those type of shots. … I think he knew right after he took the shot that he probably got lucky coming out of that one clean.”