University of Washington

UW coach says Azeem Victor gives Huskies ‘juice’on the edge

Petersen addresses media one last time before Stanford

Washington coach Chris Petersen discusses Stanford defensive tackle Harrison Phillips
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Washington coach Chris Petersen discusses Stanford defensive tackle Harrison Phillips

Although Azeem Victor is getting fewer reps at linebacker, it has allowed No. 9 Washington to work with him at defensive end.

Huskies coach Chris Petersen said Wednesday the 6-foot-3 and 231-pound Victor will be used as an edge rusher. Victor’s new role will allow him to get more game reps while bolstering what’s already one of the best pass rushing units in the nation. UW (8-1, 5-1 Pac-12) will get a chance to see how the experiment works at 7:30 p.m. Friday against Stanford (6-3, 5-2) at Stanford Stadium.

“We’ve been working on it all year long,” Petersen said Victor’s transition. “That’s not new. That’s not like last week and, so, we’re just trying to get him more reps. Every position, just like I said the other day, we could talking about the littlest move on special teams and it’s amazing the complication that goes with that.”

Victor has been the odd man out within UW’s linebacking core. Junior inside linebacker Ben Burr-Kirven, who replaced Victor as a starter, leads the team with 59 tackles.

Outside linebackers Tevis Bartlett and Keishawn Bierria have also been active. Bartlett is sixth on the team with 33 tackles and leads the Huskies with 10 tackles for a loss of 45 yards. Bierria has 32 tackles, which is seventh.

UW has moved Victor around at different spots in the hopes of giving him an established role. The productivity of Bartlett, Bierria and Burr-Kirven — while welcomed — has made it harder for Petersen and his staff.

Deploying Victor on the edge gives the Huskies another athletic option. The Huskies, who enter this week as the No. 1 defense in college football, are ninth nationally in sacks at 29. Southern California leads with 34.

Stanford could provide a challenge for Victor and the Huskies’ pass rushers. The Cardinal have only allowed 11 sacks this season.

“I think what Azeem can bring to the table is juice off the edge,” Petersen said. “He’s a physical player. ... I think he’s one of those guys with the type of movement we’re always trying to find.”

Ryan S. Clark: @ryan_s_clark