SEATTLE — It became apparent early Tuesday morning — the first time the Huskies returned to the field since last Saturday — that they’ll have to move on without injured star receiver Kasen Williams, who is out for the season.
“When he’s out there, that’s one half of the field that I never had to worry about,” said Eric Kiesau, Washington’s offensive coordinator and receivers coach. “I never even had to look over there, because I knew he was going to play hard. I knew he was going to make plays. I know he knew his assignments.
“So it’s almost like when I was in practice and I’m out on the field, I’d watch the other side. Well, now I had to open up my vision to the whole side. It was kind of a daunting feeling. You always had kind of your security blanket over there with a guy who always knew what he was doing and made plays.”
The Huskies are still gripping with the loss of Williams, who broke his leg and suffered a foot injury during the victory over California.
Coach Steve Sarkisian said surgery “went well” for Williams on Tuesday and doctors didn’t find anything out of the ordinary during the procedure.
Williams is expected to be out of action two to four months.
“We’ll get a better gauge as (rehabilitation) goes,” Sarkisian said. “We won’t rush him back. We have plenty of time. And he’s been in this system, so he understands it. When he comes back he’ll be fresh, ready to go, and he’ll play great football for us.”
Williams, a junior, is third on the team with 29 receptions and 421 yards after leading UW in both categories (77 and 878) last season.
It remains to be seen how his absence will affect UW’s passing offense, which ranks sixth in the Pac-12 at 283.8 yards a game.
“He brought confidence, he brought swagger, brought a mean streak and he brought fun,” sophomore receiver Jaydon Mickens said. “He was just Kasen. When you’re around Kasen, it’s always a good feeling. He’s never mad, he’s never angry.
“But when he gets that ball, he runs angry.”
Despite a dip in production, Williams’ fingerprints are all over the offense.
Mickens noted Washington will miss him most on third down “when we need a big play or a guy to go and get that jump ball.”
At 6 feet 2 and 212 pounds, Williams was a big target on passing routes for quarterback Keith Price.
Sarkisian acknowledged freshman Damore’ea Stringfellow (6-3 and 225) could assume Williams’ responsibilities because they have similar size. Another possibility is 6-6 tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins.
However, the Huskies also are intrigued with sophomore Marvin Hall (5-10 and 182), who has four catches for 49 yards this season. He would give them another speedster to pair alongside Mickens and freshman standout John Ross.
“Marvin provides us a little different (spark),” Sarkisian said. “He’s got great speed. That was evident the other night in a couple of the catches down field and a couple of the punt returns.”
“When you start putting Marvin, Jaydon and John Ross on the field together, that’s a lot of speed out there that can pose a little bit of a different threat than maybe what Kasen and Stringfellow and Austin provide.”