SEATTLE — Washington middle linebacker Azeem Victor is expected to miss the rest of the season after undergoing surgery for a broken lower right leg, coach Chris Petersen announced Monday, the second major injury loss for the Huskies defense in recent weeks.
There is no timeline yet for Victor’s recovery but the expectation is the junior won’t be back this season. Petersen was noncommittal when asked if there was any chance Victor could recover in time for a bowl game.
“It’s OK. It’s not going to be a real long-term thing,” Petersen said. “It’s a bone and those things will heal quickly. I don’t know exactly what the timeline is but it’s probably as good as it could be in terms of all those things.”
Victor was injured in the second quarter of No. 7 Washington’s 26-13 loss to Southern California on Saturday. Victor was in on the tackle of USC’s Justin Davis on a running play, but immediately came up hobbling. He was on the field for several minutes getting tended to by medical personnel, who put an air cast on Victor’s leg on the field before he was taken off on a cart.
Victor leads Washington with 68 tackles this season. He was regarded as a potential second-day pick in the NFL draft if he left after his junior season.
“So really when it was all said and done it was probably more positive than we were first thinking,” Petersen said. “Sometimes when you go into surgery and all that it’s all this kind of stuff but it was pretty straightforward from what I understand.”
It’s the second major loss for the Huskies on that side of the ball after sack leader Joe Mathis underwent surgery earlier this month for a foot injury. Mathis is also expected to be out for the season, although The Seattle Times reported last week that Mathis is hopeful of possibly being able to return for a bowl game.
Petersen joked Monday that no team other than Alabama could have the depth on the roster to withstand losing two top defensive players and not have any drop off.
“I don’t know if anyone does that. Maybe Alabama. I don’t know,” he said. “I think every coach in America, for the most part, you get a really good player, you lose them, you might have a really good young player but they’re just not there. I don’t know if you ever get there.”
Redshirt freshman D.J. Beavers is listed as the starter with Victor out. Beavers stepped in after Victor’s injury on Saturday and finished with six tackles. But he also had some of his inexperience exposed by USC.
Linebacker is one area where Washington still lacks experienced depth. Along with Beavers, the other options appear to be freshman Brandon Wellington and sophomore Ben Burr-Kirven.
“I think he filled in pretty well,” Petersen said of Beavers. “He made some tackles, played aggressive, played tough. It’s hard when you lose a player like Azeem for sure but it’s not like ‘We have no chance’ type thing. He was right there playing physical like a linebacker should. He’s had a lot of good reps throughout the season and now he’s going to have a lot more.”