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Injuries start to mount for UW as they prepare for tonight’s Colorado contest

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Byron Murphy is the latest add to a growing list.

Montana v Washington
Byron Murphy to miss up to six weeks with a broken foot.
Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

Adam Jude broke the news of the broken foot last night:

With the addition of Byron Murphy to a lengthening list of key injuries affecting the Washington Huskies football roster, one has to wonder at what point do these injuries begin to notably affect on the field performance. We now know that this list includes several starters and co-starters: TE Drew Sample, WR Andre Baccellia, RB Lavon Coleman, WR Chico McClatcher and LB DJ Beavers

Let’s break them down:

Defensive Backs: Byron Murphy (broken foot, 6 weeks)

Though just a freshman, Murphy has established himself as the best CB on the roster and Jimmy Lake’s #1 guy. The loss of Murphy is a blow, but one that might be manageable given the depth of the UW roster at corner. Austin Joyner came back from injury last week and really acquitted himself well against Fresno State. Jordan Miller is already a major rotation player. True frosh Elijah Molden has already played (and shown up well) while converted RB Jomon Dotson already has a pick six on the season.

The key impact here will show up in how DC Pete Kwiatkowski decides to deploy blitzes. He might be less comfortable committing an extra defender to the line of scrimmage without a guy with Murphy’s skills available for man to man matchups. This might be particularly true in tonight’s game given Colorado’s depth at receiver.

Linebackers: DJ Beavers (indefinite)

Beavers has been out all season. With Azeem Victor in place as the natural starter and the emergence of Ben Burr-Kirven as a significant contributor, UW ought to continue to be able to weather the Beavers injury with minimal disruption. But the depth at ILB probably cannot withstand much more attrition.

Wide Receivers: Andre Baccellia (day-to-day), Chico McClatcher (game-time)

We’ve already started to see the depth situation evolve at UW’s receiver position. WR Jordan Chin got the start last week while significant focus was put on getting both Hunter Bryant and Brayden Lenius more ingrained into the passing attack. That yielded some good results. In addition, freshman phenom Ty Jones had his redshirt removed last week and will be a major part of the rotation going forward.

The younger players here are good complements to guys like Dante Pettis and Aaron Fuller. It’ll be interesting to me to see if Fuller and / or Quentin Pounds can take advantage of the extra reps. It will also be interesting to see how much more Salvon Ahmed gets used in the passing game. UW ought to be all right here.

Tight Ends: David Ajamu (season), Drew Sample (day-to-day)

The depth is really getting challenged for the blocking tight ends. Essentially, UW is down to Will Dissly - a converted defensive lineman who is playing really well - and a package that has offensive tackle Luke Wattenberg lining up as a sixth lineman.

The good news is that Hunter Bryant is getting more reps and having an impact on the game, even if it is more as a receiver than a blocker. Freshman Jacob Kizer is also getting his feet wet. But I can’t help but wonder about how much the Sample injury hamstrings what Jonathan Smith wants to do offense. This is a really critical issue.

Running Backs: Lavon Coleman (concussion, day-to-day)

The Coleman injury doesn’t sound serious, but you never know when it comes to head injuries. Him being sidelined is a major blow to UW as it isn’t clear who is ready to take his place.

We saw last weekend the deployment of a Coleman-Gaskin package that had Coleman playing in a modified fullback role. It was very effective and took advantage of Coleman’s unique physical skills. Ahmed and Sean McGrew look like the next two backs in line for carries, but neither can play that kind of role in UW’s offense even if they are ready to take on carries as Myles Gaskin’s backups.

This could be a major issue for UW against Colorado. If the backups can’t carry the workload and if UW has to abandon the two-back schemes that they introduced last week, the playbook shrinks for the Huskies.