STORRS - The UConn football team will be without its top offensive weapon for Saturdayâ€™s game with Missouri, and for perhaps the next month.
Running back Arkeel Newsome, one of the most productive players in Husky history, will miss the next 3-4 weeks with what coach Randy Edsall called a â€śclavicle/sternumâ€ť injury. He was hurt in UConnâ€™s 20-14 win over Tulsa last Saturday.
Newsome, a 5-foot-7, 180-pound senior from Ansonia, is the Huskiesâ€™ leading receiver and its second-leading rusher. He is second in UConn history in all-purpose yardage.
â€śArkeel has been very productive. Heâ€™s been having a very good year. I feel bad for him. But itâ€™s like anything else. You have to move forward,â€ť Edsall said Tuesday. â€śHeâ€™s not going to be there so now other guys are going to get their opportunities to step up.â€ť
When UConn plays Missouri Saturday at Pratt & Whitney Stadium (6:30 p.m., CBS Sports Network) itâ€™s likely redshirt freshman Nate Hopkins will be the starting running back. True freshman Kevin Mensah is also likely to see a big increase in his playing time.
â€śThatâ€™s tough. I donâ€™t know all the details of his injury but I talked to him a little bit yesterday,â€ť UConn senior quarterback Bryant Shirreffs said. â€śItâ€™s a pleasure to play with him and just be around him. Itâ€™s sad but itâ€™s part of the game.â€ť
Newsome was injured on a 51-yard reception in the first quarter against Tulsa that set up a UConn field goal.
He has caught a team-high 22 passes for a team-high 407 yards this season and also has 218 yards rushing. Newsome has scored five touchdowns.
â€śHe makes big plays when we need a big play,â€ť UConn linebacker Junior Joseph said.
The Missouri game will be the first Newsome has missed in his career due to injury. He has played in 44 straight games for the Huskies.
â€śItâ€™s really tough, especially the timing of it,â€ť said Joseph, also a senior. â€śItâ€™s his senior year. Thereâ€™s five games left and they said three to four weeks. Thatâ€™s essentially the season. Itâ€™s tough.â€ť
UConn (3-4) has already had its bye week.
Coincidentally, Missouri (2-5) will also be without its top running back this week.
Damarea Crockett, who injured his shoulder Oct. 14 in a 53-28 SEC loss to No. 3 Georgia, will miss Saturdayâ€™s game. He leads the Tigers with 481 yards rushing and an average of 6.0 per carry.
On the UConn side, Edsall, as is his wont, said Newsomeâ€™s absence is merely a matter of â€śnext man up.â€ť
â€śWeâ€™re not going to change our whole offense, thatâ€™s for sure,â€ť Edsall said.
Hopkins played the majority of the Tulsa game after Newsome departed, but Mensahâ€™s role will change the most this week.
â€śKevin is getting better but Kevin has to relax a little bit. He puts a lot of pressure on himself,â€ť Edsall said of the Worcester native. â€śHeâ€™s one of these kids that wants to be perfect all the time instead of getting the ball and letting your instincts take over. Because heâ€™s talented enough.â€ť
UConn and Missouri are meeting for just the second time. In the other meeting at Missouri on Sept. 19, 2015, the Tigers beat UConn, 9-6.
Missouri safety Anthony Sherrils, now a senior with, intercepted a pass on a fake field goal by UConn - the Huskiesâ€™ third fake kick of the day - on the final play.
Edsall announced Tuesday that reserve safety John Robinson has been suspended for the next two games for a violation of team rules. â€śAfter that heâ€™ll be back where he normally is,â€ť Edsall said of the sophomore form Englewood, New Jersey. Sophomore Aaron Garland replaced Robinson on the depth chart this week as the backup to starter Marshe Terry. â€¦ WR/KR Kyle Buss, DE Connor Freeborn and S Brice McAllister will all be out this week due to injuries. Edsall said that DE James Atkins, however, is back at practice and could return for Saturdayâ€™s game.