Oregon coach Mark Helfrich confirmed Thursday one of the worst-kept secrets in college football: that star cornerback Ifo Ekpre-Olomu will miss the rest of the season.
Oregon is notoriously close-mouthed about injuries and Helfrich wouldn't confirm or deny that Ekpre-Olomu suffered a knee injury during practice. But he did tell reporters during a media availability that Ekpre-Olomu "won't participate in the playoff."
His absence means Oregon will be without its best defensive player in the Rose Bowl playoff semifinal against Florida State, which features quarterback Jameis Winston and wide receiver Rashad Greene. In addition to Ekpre-Olomu's coverage skills, Oregon will miss his run-support abilities. And if Oregon gets past FSU, the Ducks certainly would miss Ekpre-Olomu in a championship-game matchup against either Alabama (with star wide receiver Amari Cooper and a strong ground game) or Ohio State (which features speedy wideout Devin Smith and an array of fast tailbacks).
Redshirt freshman Chris Seisay likely will start in Ekpre-Olomu's stead against FSU opposite senior Troy Hill, with senior Dior Mathis -- who has been inconsistent this season -- likely serving as the No. 3 corner. Hill goes from being the "other" corner to the guy in the spotlight, as he likely will be given the task of trying to stymie Greene.
Hill has one interception and a team-leading 16 pass breakups this season. Seisay, who has played in 11 games, has zero picks and three breakups. Mathis, who has played in all 13 games and is in his third season as a key backup, has four breakups and no interceptions.