Kayvon Thibodeaux day-to-day with ankle sprain with No. 12 Oregon's upcoming game at No. 3 Ohio State
No. 12 Oregon hits the road this week for a nationally televised game against No. 3 Ohio State at the "Horseshoe” in Columbus.
The Ducks (1-0) presumably will feel a lot better about their chances Saturday if their best player is in uniform ready to play.
Defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux, who suffered a sprained ankle in Oregon’s 31-24 win against Fresno State last weekend, was labeled day-to-day by coach Mario Cristobal on Monday afternoon.
“He’s improving,” Cristobal said. “By Tuesday (or) Wednesday, I’ll give you guys an update on him.”
For what it’s worth, Thibodeaux was still listed as a starter on the weekly depth chart Oregon released Monday.
'We'll take it day by day'
Thibodeaux played a handful of disruptive series against the Bulldogs before a lineman rolled onto his left ankle late in the first quarter.
He watched the second half from the sideline in street clothes and with a boot on his left foot, but not before registering two solo tackles, a quarterback sack, a quarterback pressure and a forced fumble.
It was just the type of performance that has pro scouts enamored with the 6-foot-5, 258-pound third-year sophomore.
The Ducks return to the practice field Tuesday and Thibodeaux’s availability for Saturday will depend on his ability to join his teammates at some point this week.
“If a guy can’t practice, I don’t think it’s in his best interest or a team’s best interest to put a guy out there who hasn’t been able to rep,” Cristobal said. “So we’ll take it day by day.”
Opportunity for Bradyn Swinson
Freshman Bradyn Swinson saw his playing time increase last Saturday when Thibodeaux went out, and his role could expand if Thibodeaux can’t play against the Buckeyes (1-0).
Swinson had five tackles against the Bulldogs, including a sack for a 14-yard loss — a play created by Thibodeaux, who pressured Fresno State quarterback Jake Haener out of the pocket and right into the charging Swinson.
“Bradyn showed that he’s gonna be, and is working on being, a really good football player,” Cristobal said. “In the run game, he did a really good job minus one assignment. … He affected the passer on a number of different occasions. He played fast and it's what we expected of him.”
Other Saturday injuries
Starting WILL linebacker Dru Mathis was also hurt against Fresno State and the super senior will miss Saturday’s game and possibly more with a “(left) leg injury,” Cristobal confirmed. "We hope that it won’t be real long term.”
Freshman Justin Flowe emerged in a big way when Mathis went down, finishing with a team-high 14 tackles (five solo) and forcing a fumble in the fourth quarter that Oregon recovered and turned into the game-tying field goal.
“He’s a game-changer,” Cristobal said. “All over the field, plays with incredible passion, forcing turnovers, really aggressive.”
Flowe is listed as the starter this week alongside second-year freshman MIKE linebacker Noah Sewell, who also forced a turnover last Saturday, and third-year-sophomore SAM Mase Funa, who also recovered a fumble. Keith Brown, a true freshman from Lebanon, is listed as Flowe's backup on the depth chart.
“It’s the vision, seeing those guys playing side by side out there,” Cristobal said. “(Flowe is) really impressive, the fact that he just doesn’t get tired. He just goes.”
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No. 11 Oregon at No. 4 Ohio State
9 a.m. Saturday at Ohio Stadium, Columbus, Ohio. TV: Fox. Radio: KUJZ-FM (95.3) and KUGN-AM (590).