If the Washington Huskies can find sustainable firepower for their hit-or-miss offense during the bye week, they are going to have to do it without their best lineman.
Coach Chris Petersen announced Monday that left tackle and potential 2018 NFL Draft first-rounder Trey Adams will miss the rest of the season with a right knee injury.
Adams, a 6-foot-8, 327-pounder who started his 30th career game for the Huskies on Saturday night, went down after a Myles Gaskin run play with 21 seconds remaining in the first quarter in the UW’s 13-7 loss at Arizona State.
Also, cornerback Jordan Miller broke his left ankle in the final minutes of the game, and is done for the year as well, Petersen said.
With wide receiver Chico McClatcher (broken ankle) out for the season, and cornerback Byron Murphy (leg) sidelined indefinitely, the Huskies have already lost four starters for a significant amount of time.
No injury is bigger than the loss of Adams.
The all-Pac 12 first-teamer from Wenatchee was a consensus top-60 pick in next spring’s NFL Draft, if he decided to declare as a junior.
According to ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper, Jr., Adams was projected in that second tier of offensive tackle prospects behind Oklahoma’s Orlando Brown, Texas’ Connor Williams and Notre Dame’s Mike McGlinchey.
There were media reports later Monday that stated Adams intends to return for his senior season.
To get a feel for Adams’ impact on the Huskies offense, Petersen said after the big man left the game Saturday, he noticed an eerie dropoff in energy with his offense.
“It had an effect for a minute on the offensive line, with our guys looking around like, ‘Where did (Adams) go?’” Petersen said. “He’s been out there for a lot of snaps. ... For whatever reason, there was kind of a strange energy, in my opinion.
“It was a little bit different.”
Senior Andrew Kirkland, who came into fall camp as the favorite for the starting left-guard spot, only to lose it to Jesse “Boomer” Sosebee, was Adams’ replacement Saturday night.
Petersen said during the bye week, Kirkland and redshirt freshman Luke Wattenberg will share practice repetitions at that spot.
“We have a couple of different (lineup) combinations, but (Kirkland) is the guy that has taken a lot of reps on both sides of the line,” Petersen said. “And so we have to kind of hone him in a little bit more.”
Meanwhile, Miller, the junior from Oceanside, California, who was the team leader in interceptions (two) and pass breakups (five), got barreled into from behind by teammate Taylor Rapp on the Sun Devils’ game-clinching, fourth-down pass by quarterback Manny Wilkins.
The Huskies are better shape to handle the Miller loss with the UCLA game looming Oct. 28 in Seattle.
For one, there is an outside chance that Murphy could return by then. If not, Petersen specifically pointed to true freshman Elijah Molden, Keith Taylor and Brandon McKinney, as well as tailback-turned-defensive back Jomon Dotson as potential fill-ins while Murphy heals.
“It stings for those guys, and it’s hard,” Petersen said. “It’ll probably be harder in a few weeks when it all settles in, and they’re not out there anymore.”
The UW fell to 12th both in the Associated Press media poll, and the coaches’ rankings after the loss at ASU. ... Kickoff for the UCLA game was announced at 12:30 p.m., which drew a wide smile from Petersen during his weekly Monday press conference. ... After practice Wednesday, the team will have the rest of the week off.
WSU COUGARS OPPONENT THIS WEEK
Colorado Buffaloes (4-3, 1-3 in Pac-12 South)
7:45 p.m. Saturday, Martin Stadium, Pullman, ESPN, 710-AM
Coach: Mike MacIntyre (24-34 in 5th year at Colorado; 40-55 overall with previous stop at San Jose State).
Against the Buffaloes: Colorado leads, 6-4.
Scouting report: The Buffaloes ended their three-game skid Saturday with a come-from-behind 36-33 victory over Oregon State. And the offense has recently relied heavily on running back Phillip Lindsay (174 carries, 995 yards, 11 total touchdowns). The senior has rushed for 466 yards and five touchdowns in his past two games. That has helped ease some of the must-do-everything pressure for quarterback Steven Montez (140 of 220, 1,691 yards; 1,902 yards of total offense), who passed for two scores, and even caught a touchdown pass in the win over the Beavers.
– Todd Milles