SEATTLE — Just like the rest of his team, Washington linebacker Azeem Victor was about to embark on a season of heightened expectations, partly the result of being named a preseason AP All-American.
Now Victor’s season will start a week later than the rest of his teammates’.
Victor was suspended one game for a violation of team rules, Washington coach Chris Petersen announced Monday. He will be at home in Seattle when the No. 8 Huskies open the season on Friday at Rutgers.
Petersen did not specify the violation that led to the suspension for Victor, who was coming off a junior season that was shortened due to a broken leg suffered late last season against Southern California.
“Guys make mistakes. Nobody is perfect,” Petersen said. “It’s a mistake. The hard thing is you’re in a public eye. It’s tough. Azeem is a good guy, he is, but guys make mistakes and we have team standards and we live by them.”
Victor missed the final four games of last season after breaking his leg in Washington’s only regular-season loss. He was a spectator as the Huskies won the Pac-12 North and beat Colorado in the Pac-12 championship game before losing to Alabama in the national semifinals.
Victor is fully recovered and expected to team with Keishawn Bierria to form one of the best linebacker duos in the country.
Victor is one of two potential defensive starters who will miss the opener. Cornerback Austin Joyner, in the competition to start in the secondary, was suspended two games for a violation of team rules. Joyner, a sophomore who appeared in 12 games last season, will sit against Rutgers and for the home opener on Sept. 9 against Montana.
A depleted secondary is an area of concern for Washington, which saw Sidney Jones, Budda Baker and Kevin King taken in the first two rounds of the NFL draft last spring. Joyner was in the mix to start along with Byron Murphy, Elijah Molden, Jordan Miller and Myles Bryant.
“The depth is not the issue. Experience. We’ll get that,” Petersen said. “Those kids are working hard and they’re getting better every day and every week. We get to that point where you have to go out there and see what we’ve got. But I’m excited to watch those guys compete.”
The Huskies enter the season under a different microscope coming off their national semifinal appearance. They’re the clear favorites in the Pac-12 North and no one would be surprised if they find themselves back in the discussion for a College Football Playoff spot come the end of the regular season.
Last year, the Huskies were all about potential and they more than lived up to it. The expectations this year are to be an elite program from the start, as much as Petersen tries to block it out.
“This is the honest-to-God’s truth: We kind of live in a bubble here,” Petersen said. “I don’t know a lot of stuff that’s being said. We pay attention to some things, or I get word of some things if it’s a big thing, but I don’t really know. We just kind of go about our business and I really want our kids to think that way as well. So I really haven’t been surprised by anything because we’re just back building a new team up.”
NOTES: Petersen announced that reserve TE David Ajamu is out for the season after having surgery to repair a broken leg. Ajamu also lost his apartment recently in a fire. “There’s some stuff that we can do as coaches and everything we’re clearing through compliance and we’re helping him as much as we can,” Petersen said. … The Huskies will leave Wednesday for Friday’s game. The team plans to tour the 9/11 Memorial in New York as part of the trip. “I think it is really important that we all do that. I am excited about that. I think this team, and this program, is mature enough to do that,” Petersen said.