Joe Mathis tried to rehabilitate the foot injury that kept him out of the Washington Huskies’ last three football games, tried to get healthy in time to return to the field before this season ended.
But it was decided that surgery was the best option, and the Huskies will instead have to play the rest of the year without their best pass rusher.
UW coach Chris Petersen announced Monday that Mathis, the senior outside linebacker, will not return this season. Mathis had five sacks in UW’s first six games before injuring his foot. Petersen said a few weeks ago that he expected Mathis back at some point this season, though a timeline was never available.
Late last week, Petersen said, Mathis and UW’s doctors decided it was best that the Ontario, California, native undergo season-ending surgery.
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“He might have been able to rehab and get in there for some games down the road,” Petersen said, “but just between him and the doctors and all that stuff, (they) just thought after rehabbing it for a couple weeks, I don’t think he was going to feel real comfortable.”
Mathis finishes his UW career with 78 tackles, 15 1/2 tackles for loss and nine sacks. He thrived this season at UW’s hybrid “buck” linebacker position, particularly in blowout victories against Stanford and Oregon, and began to earn recognition as a potential NFL draft selection. Having surgery now makes it more likely Mathis will be healthy in time for the draft combine in February.
It has been an eventful four years for Mathis at UW. He played a reserve role as a true freshman in 2013, but clashed with Petersen’s new coaching staff after Steve Sarkisian’s departure and considered leaving the program. He ultimately decided to stay, and has since said that he simply needed to grow up, and realized the new coaches were only trying to help him. He also became a father this year.
Mathis entered the season as one of UW’s most important players, and that status was confirmed once the games began. He had a sack against Portland State, a sack against Arizona, two sacks against Stanford, and a sack and three tackles for loss against Oregon. His competency as a pass rusher allowed the Huskies to pressure quarterbacks with only their front four or five players, and they led the nation in sacks through the first four weeks of the season despite rarely blitzing.
The Huskies have not hit opposing passers with as much frequency without him. They have only three sacks in the three games since Mathis’ injury after totaling 24 in the six games he played.
Fourth-year junior Connor O’Brien has replaced Mathis in the starting lineup and has two sacks and 5.5 tackles for loss this season. Redshirt freshman Benning Potoa’e is beginning to see more time at that position, too.
“Fortunately, the next guys have been playing, and they’ve been playing hard, getting meaningful reps and all that,” Petersen said, “and that’s just kind of how it goes.”
ROSS, JONES HONORED
ROSS, JONES HONORED
Two more Huskies players earned player of the week recognition from the Pac-12.
Junior receiver John Ross III was voted the league’s offensive player of the week after catching six passes for 208 yards and three touchdowns in UW’s 66-27 victory at California, and junior defensive back Sidney Jones was named defensive player of the week after intercepting two passes and breaking up two others.
ASU KICKOFF TIME
Washington’s Nov. 19 home game against Arizona State will kickoff at 4:30 p.m. and air on Channel 13, meaning the Huskies will finish the regular season having played only three games that began later than
The Apple Cup game at Washington State is scheduled for a 12:30 p.m. kickoff on Friday, Nov. 25.