By Gregg Bell
UW Director of Writing
SEATTLE – Kasen Williams’ best attributes include strength and resolve.
Those are getting tested right now.
Coach Steve Sarkisian said Monday the Huskies’ top wide receiver has a "break in the leg and injury to the foot" and is scheduled to have surgery on Tuesday.
“He has an MRI (Monday) afternoon. He is scheduled for surgery tomorrow. We'll be able to talk more specifically after the surgery ... about where he's at," Sarkisian at noon Monday, the start of Washington’s bye week.
"To Kasen's credit he's in good spirits. He came to Coach James' service yesterday. He was with the team today. He'll take it like a champion. He'll do whatever we need him to do to get healthy, and he'll be back."
That won’t likely be until 2014.
Sarkisian said he won't know until after the surgery if there is any possibility of Williams, a junior who has 29 catches in 7½ games this season, returning for a late-December bowl game. UW (5-3, 2-3 Pac-12), which next plays Nov. 9 at home against Colorado (3-4, 0-4), will become eligible for a bowl with two more wins.
But the way the injury occurred and the initial diagnosis suggest any return this year is highly unlikely.
Williams was UW's leading receiver in 2012 and the Parade magazine national high-school player of the year in 2010 out of Skyline High in the Seattle suburb of Sammamish. He got the gruesome-looking injury after leaping high trying to catch Keith Price's long pass in front of the Huskies' bench early in the second quarter of Saturday's 41-17 victory over California.
As the ball bounced away and Williams returned to the turf, his left leg buckled beneath him. The weight of Cal defensive back Kameron Jackson then landed on Williams' lower left leg. The foot bent grotesquely under him and into the turf as Williams landed.
"It was just an odd play where the defensive back ended up landing on the back of his leg," Sarkisian said, "and with all the force caused obviously the break in the leg and the injury to the foot."
He was on his back on the ground for a moment as two trainers and a UW team doctor rushed to him. He hobbled off to behind the bench area with a trainer propping him up under each arm. At a table, trainers inflated an air cast and encased his lower leg. A motorized cart then took Williams from Husky Stadium -- with him memorably and gamely flashing a W on his way out. He went to Seattle's Harborview Medical Center and was back on campus before the game ended.
As Sarkisian said, he attended Don James' memorial service at Alaska Airlines Arena on Sunday afternoon. Williams' leg was encased in what appeared a white, cast-like immobilizer from the knee down. He propped it on a folding chair in front of him during the 95-minute program.
Immediately after the game Price blamed himself for not throwing the ball farther and allowing Williams to run under it rather than having to stop and leap for the 35-yard pass. Sarkisian brushed that off as an example of the quarterback and captain being a leader, never one to take credit but quick to accept blame.
"Yeah, it could have gone a little further down the field, but it's a play that Kasen routinely makes," Sarkisian said. "We've grown accustomed to him jumping up and making those plays."
Sarkisian said the bye is coming at an opportune time with the team full of assorted injuries far more minor than Williams’; the coach any of his nicked-up players could play this week if UW had a game. The players are also taking midterm exams this week, so not having a game this week will provide extra study time.
As has become the norm for Sarkisian’s teams, veterans will be getting some time off during practices this bye week. The first priority the next few mornings on the field will be to develop depth and give backups more time.
“We’ve got more depth now. We’ve really got the opportunity to develop our players,” Sarkisian said, comparing this bye week to ones in 2009 or ’10 when he first got to Washington. “We have a lot of freshmen who are either redshirting or are producing only on special teams that we know are going to be good players down the road for us. So the emphasis on those guys has gradually increased as the bye weeks have come.
“Early on it was just, get healthy and try to get ready for the next week. Now, there’s a real emphasis placed on those guys and developing them to get them to prepare to play down the road.”
INSIDE THE DAWGS: During Saturday's game Elise Woodward, the sideline reporter for the Washington IMG College radio network, reported the Huskies fear Williams has a Lisfranc fracture/bone displacement in the middle of his foot. And while Sarkisian did not use the term "Lisfranc" in his postgame description, the coach calling it "a break and a dislocation in his foot" is similar. Former Huskies quarterback Isaiah Stanback's returned from a Lisfranc injury in the spring of 2007 to prepare for the NFL draft. Read about the origins of the injury and what goes into a comeback from it here: http://www.utsandiego.com/sports/nfl/20070426-0053-fbn-draft-stanbackscomeback.html ... After his career-best, 241-yard rushing night with two touchdowns against Cal, Bishop Sankey is tied for the national lead with 12 rushing touchdowns. The junior is second in the country with 1,162 yards rushing, 18 yards behind Antonio Andrews of Western Kentucky. Sankey also leads the nation with 199 carries. With five games remaining, assuming the Huskies reach a bowl, Sankey is 102 carries and 532 yards from Corey Dillon’s UW season records. Dillon set both marks in 1996.