Jermaine Kelly stood on a pair of crutches, his right foot in a walking boot as the redshirt freshman cornerback watched the Washington Huskies warmed up before their 44-19 victory over Illinois on Saturday.
Kelly, who started the Huskies’ first two games this season at cornerback, will miss “most of the season” after fracturing his ankle in practice this week, UW coach Chris Petersen confirmed.
Kelly will need surgery to repair the fracture.
With Kelly out, fifth-year senior Travell Dixon and freshman Sidney Jones each made their first career starts at cornerback. Freshmen Naijiel Hale and Darren Gardenhire also saw action in the Huskies’ defensive backfield, which fared far better against Illinois than it did last week against Eastern Washington.
The Huskies also played again without fifth-year senior right tackle Ben Riva, who played last week against Eastern Washington but missed UW’s season opener at Hawaii with an injury. Petersen said that injury is still lingering. Redshirt freshman Coleman Shelton made his second career start in place of Riva.
Redshirt freshman linebacker Azeem Victor was also seen on the Huskies’ sideline wearing a boot on his right foot. Petersen said he has a minor ankle injury, and hopes he doesn’t miss more than another week or two.
No Peters update
Junior cornerback Marcus Peters, one of the Huskies’ best defensive players and by far their most experienced defensive back, did not play against Illinois while serving a suspension for the tantrum he threw on the sidelines during last week’s game against Eastern Washington.
Petersen said after Saturday’s game that he had “nothing new” to report on Peters. When asked directly if he expects Peters to play next week against Georgia State, Petersen said he simply has no status update and that “nothing’s changed.”
Kikaha moves up list
With three sacks against Illinois, senior outside linebacker Hau’oli Kikaha became the eighth player in school history to record 20 or more sacks in his career. He has five this season, had 13 in 2013 and has 22 in his career, good for sixth all-time at UW.
Kikaha and senior nose tackle Danny Shelton have combined for 11 of the Huskies’ 15 sacks through three games this season.
“I think he was tired of Danny getting all the headlines,” Petersen joked. “So he stepped his game up a little bit.”
“He’s a great player,” Shelton said of Kikaha. “He is always going to attack and have that mindset to get after the ball. He showed it this game, and I’m really excited to watch him.”
Van Winkle good from deep
When Cameron Van Winkle’s 51-yard field goal attempt split the uprights with 6:21 remaining in the game, it marked the longest field goal by a Huskies kicker since Erik Folk hit from 53 against Eastern Washington in 2011.
Petersen said he didn’t hesitate to call on Van Winkle, a sophomore from Fall City who missed most of last season with a serious back injury, because special-teams coordinator Jeff Choate was convinced that the slight breeze at the Huskies’ back would help the kick.
“He’s got a good leg. He really does,” Petersen said. “What we worry about him is trying to swing too hard. When he swings easy, the ball will really jump. So with that breeze from where he was, as long as he swings easy, we felt he could make it.”
When Huskies punter Korey Durkee dropped a snap on the back line of the end zone in the second quarter, Illinois recorded the first safety against the Huskies since USC did it in 2011.
The safety put a strange number on the scoreboard for the Illini, cutting UW’s lead at the time to 28-5.