Multiple reports are indicating that Oregon cornerback Ifo Ekpre-Olomu tore up a knee earlier this week in practice and is out of the Ducks’ playoff semifinal game in the Rose Bowl against Florida State.
First, if true, that has to be a massive disappointment for the player, a senior coming toward the most meaningful games of his career. Beyond that, it would leave his readiness in question for the NFL draft, where he was expected to be one of the first cornerbacks off the board – at a position prized at the pro level.
For Oregon, it’s a huge hit to chances of a national title — and even to beating Florida State. I’m of the belief that Ekpre-Olomu didn’t have quite the season reflected in some first-team All-America honors, but he still was easily Oregon’s most effective player at that position. Dior Mathis, another corner who has played a lot (and been picked on a fair amount), will be among those asked to shore up the position.
All the Ducks have to worry about is the 2013 Heisman Trophy winner, Jameis Winston — who can be prone to mistakes, but also to making clutch plays for the Seminoles.
The Ekpre-Olomu injury drives home the cruel reality that even when a program seems poised for perhaps its biggest breakthrough, it takes some luck. In the spring, Oregon lost standout receiver Bralon Addison, and the Ducks muddled through the first half of the season with a glut of injuries on the offensive line. They patched together solutions to both those problems, and now they have another big challenge.