The Washington Huskies lost one of their most important defensive players to injury during their 26-13 loss Saturday night to the USC Trojans.
After making a tackle in the second quarter, junior linebacker Azeem Victor, UW’s season leader in tackles, came up hobbling. He took a few steps before lying back down on the turf. Trainers examined him for a moment, then called for the medical cart to take him off the field.
Victor had an air cast put on his lower right leg and raised his right fist to acknowledge the crowd as trainers drove him off the field.
UW coach Chris Petersen did not have an update on Victor’s status after the game, but did not seem encouraged.
“I know when one of our guys gets carted off,” Petersen said. “It’s not going to be good.”
If the injury is as serious as it appears — as the coach said, it’s never good when air casts and trainer’s carts are involved — it’s a big blow for a Huskies defense already missing sacks leader Joe Mathis. Victor entered Saturday’s game with 68 tackles, 20 more than any other UW player. He is an imposing force at middle linebacker and was thought to be a likely NFL draft selection this year.
Redshirt freshman DJ Beavers replaced Victor at linebacker and finished with six tackles and a half-tackle for loss.
“It’s like seeing any brother go down,” said junior linebacker Keishawn Bierria, who led the team with nine tackles. “We spend so much time together, spend so much time preparing for these moments, seeing him go down is hard. But we’ve got that ‘next man up’ mentality.”
There was also positive injury news for the Huskies on Saturday. Starting left guard Jake Eldrenkamp, the fifth-year senior from Bellevue, returned to the starting lineup after missing UW’s last two games with an undisclosed injury.
ROSS SCORES AGAIN
Despite the Huskies’ tepid offensive performance, star receiver John Ross still had a big game.
Ross finished with eight catches for 154 yards and a 70-yard touchdown pass made possible by a nasty juke of USC cornerback Adoree’ Jackson at the line of scrimmage.
With 15 touchdown receptions this year, Ross is now three shy of the UW single-season record of 18 set by Mario Bailey in 1991.
Washington’s loss to USC snapped a 12-game winning streak dating to last season. UW’s last loss was a 27-17 defeat at Arizona State on Nov. 14, 2015. … With 51 yards rushing on Saturday, tailback Myles Gaskin now has 1,003 yards rushing this season. He rushed for 1,302 yards in 13 games last year. … UW quarterback Jake Browning added to his single-season UW touchdown passes record with his 35th of the season. … Freshman safety Taylor Rapp made the first two interceptions of his career. … Browning threw two interceptions, his first multi-interception game since UW’s loss at ASU last season.