Practice recap: Oregon quickly moves forward from Ifo Ekpre-Olomu injury
The Oregon football team has moved on. Not because they aren’t feeling the impact of losing All-American cornerback Ifo Ekpre-Olomu to a season ending knee injury, but because they had no other choice.
“I will confirm that he won’t participate in the Playoff, which is very unfortunate for him,” Mark Helfrich said. “He’s already been Ifo in terms of leadership and already made a difference in kind of how he handled getting dinged up, but just a tough, tough dude and I expect our team to respond exactly how they’ve responded to everything else.”
With years of implementing a ‘next man up’ mindset, the Ducks have eased the tension as much as possible. And with a combination of Troy Hill, Chris Seisay and Dior Mathis waiting to play and fill in for their veteran leader, the Ducks are confident with who they have moving forward.
Even with the loss of Ekpre-Olomu, the game plan hasn’t changed. That however, doesn’t mean there won’t be noticeable adjustments.
“The game plan stays the same,” Don Pellum said. “We lost a great leader, a great player, a great spiritual leader as well and everyone has got to just to pick it up a little more.”
While Pellum didn’t delve into specifics, he did say the defense plans on using a multitude of different looks in preparation for last year’s Heisman winner and his talented receiving corps.
“We’ve had some different packages throughout the year,” Pellum said. “We’re going to put together the best combination, but to be successful in this game, it’s going to take a lot of guys, so you’re going to see a lot of different guys rotating.”
A lot of the weight has now shifted towards Seisay as well as defensive linemen like Arik Armstead and DeForest Buckner, who will need to consistently put pressure on Jameis Winston. While Pellum is confident in his secondary, the importance of Armstead and Buckner to create disruption is paramount in their upcoming Rose Bowl matchup.
Said Pellum: “We’re going to have to pressure, play a lot of coverage, going to have to mix up a lot of things because I think Winston’s really good and if he can find the easy windows, he’s going to be really tough to contain.”
The mood among the Ducks wasn’t at its best at Thursday’s practice, but there’s no doubt the coaching staff and players have made the necessary adjustments. There is no telling how the team will react to Ekpre-Olomu’s injury come game time, but for now, they’re doing what they can to be at their best.
When asked if he’s the next man up, Troy Hill simply replied: “I’ve been up.”
They’ll be looking to carry this very mindset and put it to work against the Seminoles.
Follow Hayden Kim @HayDayKim