The Washington Huskies were looking to break through in the Pac 12 race in 2013 with a new up-tempo offensive attack put in the hands of senior quarterback Keith Price. That offensive gameplan took a major hit, however, with the news that Austin Seferian-Jenkins is out for an indefinite amount of time following surgery on his pinkie last week. Without his big pass-catcher in the middle, how will Steve Sarkisian adapt his attack this season?
Seferian-Jenkins figured to be a major piece of the offense in 2013. He came back to Washington after one of the best seasons of any tight end in the country last year, finishing 2012 with 69 catches for 852 yards and a team-high seven touchdown receptions. He returned for his senior season as the top tight end prospect in college football and a consensus preseason All American.
His season was already facing some adversity following an arrest for DUI during the offseason which he served one night in jail for last month. Sarkisian hasn’t discussed what punishment the tight end would receiver from the team, if any, but now that seems like a moot point with Seferian-Jenkins now on the shelf after breaking a bone in his finger during practice last week. While he was able to participate in conditioning drills, the tight end was unable to take part in any team activities and won’t be available for quite some time.
With Seferian-Jenkins out of commission, Washington needs to move on to their contingency plan at the tight end position. They had a chance to get their other tight ends some serious reps during spring practice with ASJ absent. Josh Perkins, Michael Hartvigson and Evan Hudson stepped up and took advantage of the available reps. Hartvigson, in particular, distinguished himself and Sarkisian feels he could be on the verge of a breakout season.
While the work his reserve tight ends put in during the spring gave Sarkisian a major boost in confidence about the depth of the position, it’s unlikely that any of them will be able to step in and completely fill the void left by the best tight end in the country. Losing that security blanket and matchup nightmare over the middle for Price could throw a wrench in Washington’s plans to open up the offense this fall and force the team to adjust with the rest of the playmakers on their offense.
Will the loss of Seferian-Jenkins be a hurdle too high for the Huskies to overcome in 2013 or will the combination of their reserve tight ends be enough to hold the Dawgs over until ASJ’s return later this season?