It was known that Pharaoh Brown had sustained a very significant leg injury this past November. Until now, however, it wasn’t really known just how serious it actually was.
In a 24-point win over Utah, Brown sustained an injury serious enough that it kept him hospitalized in Salty Lake City for nearly a week, prompting a visit from the opposing head coach.
In an interview with The Oregonian a month removed from a third surgery on his leg, Brown revealed that doctors were mere hours away from amputating the leg below his right knee. Brown also revealed that he sustained no broken bones; however, the paper writes, “[w]hat left him in the ICU of the University of Utah Hospital, however, was a stretched artery in his leg that caused internal bleeding and cut off blood flow below his right shin.”
The injury, which also consisted of a pair of torn ligaments, was of the non-contact variety. It was the arterial damage, though, that nearly led to the amputation. From the paper:
He expected to join his teammates back in Eugene the following day, believing the diagnosis was limited to ligament damage. In the early morning hours, a doctor burst into his hospital room — Brown remembers his message being so urgent that the doctor didn’t even introduce himself — to brief the tight end on the artery’s precarious condition. If not corrected soon, amputation was likely, he said he was told. Brown called an Oregon medical staffer to share the news and the recommendation came quickly: Get surgery.
“That just shocked me,” Brown said. “Once he said I wasn’t going to be able to walk or run again I was like, all right.”
Despite the significance of the injury, Brown is on the road to recovery. He’s able to ride a stationary bike as well as jog lightly on an underwater treadmill.
Will he able, though, to play when the 2015 season kicks off? That’s the great unknown.
“People ask me am I going to play, am I going to redshirt,” he said. “I mean, this is a career decision, so I want to make sure my stuff is fully healed, that I can do everything and not rush back. That’s why I don’t even look that long out. If I’m able to play, I’ll play. If I’m not, I’m not.
“I’m not getting out there till I’m 100 percent healed and not only 100 percent healed but 100 percent in my mind that I’m healed. A lot of people get out there and are timid to cut. When I’m on the football field, I’m a different guy and I only know how to play one way — that’s fast. I play hard, real nasty. I can’t take it soft. I know how I play and how I gotta be to play at that level.”
Late suspensions may not doom Oregon’s championship hopes vs. Ohio State
Tonight’s national championship game is a testament to teams persevering after losing key players — Ohio State made it here without quarterbacks Braxton Miller and J.T. Barrett, while Oregon lost cornerback Ifo Epkre-Olomu and wide receiver Devon Allen before kickoff of its 39-point win over Florida State Jan. 1.
But at what point does a team lose so many players that it can’t replace them? For Oregon, we may know the answer to that question by late Monday night.
Carrington, a redshirt freshman, set a season high with seven catches for 126 yards and a touchdown in Oregon’s Pac-12 Championship win over Arizona, then bested it against Florida State with seven catches for 165 yards and two touchdowns (entering the Arizona game, Carrington had one touchdown and no more than five catches and 79 yards in a game).
Without Allen, who suffered a knee injury during warmups of the College Football Playoff semifinal, Carrington became a favorite target of Heisman-winning quarterback Marcus Mariota. CSN Northwest’s Aaron Fentress runs down how Carrington’s loss will affect the depth chart against Ohio State and has reaction from the Ducks, but more importantly, offers this insight:
Oregon does not rely on a go-to receiver. The Ducks simply run their system and quarterback Marcus Mariota goes through his reads until he finds the open guy. He doesn’t zero in on a particular player.
That makes the receivers pretty much interchangeable. So while many have viewed Carrington’s 165-yard, two-touchdown performance against Florida State as a reason for major concern regarding his absence, the reality is that the Ducks believe any of their top receivers could have made those plays that day.
Oregon’s offense is predicated on running an explosive, effective system that’s stocked with players who are the perfect fit for it. The Ducks have had one top-10 recruiting class since 2009 and yet have made two title games and been in the championship conversation nearly every year since.
So when Mariota turns to Byron Marshall (66 REC, 834 yards, 5 TDs), Dwayne Stanford (39 REC, 578 YDS, 6 TDs), Keanon Lowe (25 REC, 359 yards, 4 TDs) and Charles Nelson (21 REC, 306 yards, 5 TDs), there may not be a significant dropoff.
And that’s the mark of an elite program, one that deserves to play for the first College Football Playoff Championship.
CFT Previews: The College Football Playoff championship game
WHO No. 2 Oregon (13-1) vs. No. 4 Ohio State (13-1)
WHAT The College Football Playoff championship game, presented by AT&T
WHEN 8:30 p.m. ET
WHERE AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Tex.
HEAD COACHES Ohio State’s Urban Meyer (37-3 in three years with Buckeyes, 141-26 overall) Oregon’s Mark Helfrich (24-3 in two seasons with Ducks)
STATISTICAL LEADERS Ohio State Rushing: Ezekiel Elliott, 1,632 yards, 14 touchdowns
Receiving: Michael Thomas, 50 receptions; Devin Smith, 886 yards, 12 touchdowns
Punt returns: Jalin Marshall, 12 yards per on 21 returns, one touchdown
Kick returns: Dontre Wilson. 24 yards per
Punting: Cameron Johnston, 45.3 yards per, 24 of 45 inside 20
Tackles: Joshua Perry, 118
Tackles for loss: Joey Bosa, 20
Sacks: Joey Bosa, 13.5
Interceptions: Vonn Bell, six
Passes defensed: Doran Grant, 14
Rushing: Royce Freeman, 1,343 yards, 18 touchdowns
Receiving: Byron Marshall, 66 receptions, 834 yards; Devon Allen, seven touchdowns
Punt returns: Charles Nelson, 15.5 per on 11 returns, two touchdowns
Kick returns: Devon Allen, 26.1 per on eight returns
Punting: Ian Wheeler, 39 yards per, 10 of 41 inside 20
Tackles: Erick Dargan, 90
Tackles for loss: DeForest Buckner, 13
Sacks: Tony Washington, six
Interceptions: Erick Dargan, seven
Passes defensed: Troy Hill, 19
Ohio State’s 10th-ranked rush offense (262.2 ypg) vs. Oregon’s 50th-ranked run defense (154.2 ypg)
UO’s 18th-ranked rush offense (241.9 ypg) vs. OSU’s 33rd-ranked run defense (139.8 ypg)
OSU’s 52-ranked pass offense (247.5 yp) vs. UO’s 103rd-ranked pass defense (259.5 ypg)
UO’s 11th-ranked pass offense (311 ypg) vs. OSU’s 17th-ranked pass defense (188.2 ypg)
OSU’s 5th-ranked scoring offense (45 ppg) vs. UO’s 29th-ranked scoring defense (22.5 ppg)
UO’s second-ranked scoring offense (47.2 ppg)) vs. 23rd-ranked scoring defense (21.2 ppg)
STAT THAT MIGHT MEAN SOMETHING… OR NOTHING
Oregon is 115th out 125 teams in penalty yards per game at 72, while Ohio State is 46th at 48.46 ypg. The Ducks are 116th in penalties per game (8.07) and the Buckeyes are 51st (5.64).
Michigan State. Oregon won 46-27 in Eugene Sept. 6, Ohio State won 49-37 in East Lansing Nov. 8.
Ohio State: 35-21 to Virginia Tech (7-6) in Columbus Sept. 6
Oregon: 31-24 to No. 10 Arizona (10-3) in Eugene Oct. 2
Wins vs. bowl teams: Ohio State 11, Oregon 8
Wins vs. current CFP Top 25 teams: OSU 4, UO 5
Wins in true road games: OSU 4, UO 5
Wins by 10-plus points: OSU 10, UO 12
NOTES TO NOTE
— Ohio State and Oregon played in the first-ever NCAA men’s basketball championship game in 1939. The Ducks won by a score of 46-33, and it’s very possible that both team will top the winning cager’s point total in this title matchup.
— Ohio State is 8-0 all-time vs. Oregon on the gridiron. The first game was played in the Rose Bowl following the 1957 season, the last coming in the Rose Bowl after the 2009 season. Of the six games played in between those two Rose Bowls, five were played in Columbus and one in Eugene. The average margin of victory for the Buckeyes is 16.6, with the Ducks not scoring more than 17 points in any of those contests.
— There are three players (tight end Pharaoh Brown, defensive back Troy Hill, wide receiver Dwayne Stanford) from the state of Ohio listed on Oregon’s roster, while there are no players from the state of Oregon listed on Ohio State’s roster. Neither coaching staff has any assistants who are from the opposite state.
— 23 Ducks were born in Oregon, while 62 Buckeyes hail from Ohio. Seven of Urban Meyer‘s nine assistants, the lone exceptions being co-defensive coordinator/safeties coach Chris Ash and defensive line coach/assistant head coach Larry Johnson, were born in Ohio. Meyer was as well.
— Ohio State claims seven national championships, the first in 1942 and the last in 2002. Oregon has never won a national championship since it began playing football in 1915.
— The three finalists for the 2014 Heisman Trophy were Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon, Alabama wide receiver Amari Cooper and Oregon quarterback, and winner, Marcus Mariota. The Buckeyes beat Gordon’s Badgers in the Big Ten championship game, then in their next game beat Cooper’s Crimson Tide in the Sugar Bowl semifinal.
— In the 2007 BCS title game, Meyer’s Florida Gators beat Ohio State and Heisman winner Troy Smith 41-14. In the 2009 BCS title game, Meyer’s Gators beat the Oklahoma Sooners and Heisman winner Sam Bradford 24-14.
OHIO STATE WINS IF…
… Cardale Jones remains Cardale Jones and doesn’t turn into a pumpkin at midnight.
Jones, who found himself third on the quarterback depth chart in mid-August, has started the past two games and showed absolutely no signs that the stage was too big for him. In 69 pass attempts this season, including 52 in the wins over Wisconsinand Alabama, Jones has thrown just one interception. Some of the most impressive throws for Jones, nicknamed 12-gauge for both his number and arm strength, have been his decisions to throw the ball away and live to play another down.
In the Ducks, Jones will be facing a defense that intercepted just 12 passes this season (their .857 picks per game is 75th nationally) and has shown a propensity to give up yards in chunks through the air. Jones, and the stout OSU rushing attack led by Ezekiel Elliott for that matter, will get their yardage if the defensive theme from the 2014 season continues. The Buckeyes need to capitalize on their scoring chances and, again, avoid the turnovers on which the Ducks’ offense thrives and, ultimately, buries the opposition.
Big plays have been a staple of OSU’s offense, especially after Jones took over. However, given their opposition’s offensive firepower, long, sustained drives — that end in touchdowns, not field goals — might be in order as it looks to keep the Ducks off the field.
OREGON WINS IF…
… it creates turnovers and general havoc around an inexperienced quarterback.
OK, maybe not at the level of the semifinal blowout of Florida State, when the Seminoles coughed the ball up five times in looking like a team that hadn’t played the game in years, but the Ducks will need to, as they have all season long, continue creating turnovers in what’s expected to be a back-and-forth offensive affair. This season, the Ducks are plus-20 in turnover margin, the best in the country this season. Just as importantly, the Ducks need to capitalize off the turnovers like they did in the semifinal, scoring touchdowns after all five Seminole miscues. In UO’s lone loss of the season, to Arizona, the Ducks were unable to score any points off of the Wildcats’ two turnovers.
In OSU’s only loss of the year, to Virginia Tech, the Buckeyes turned it over three times to the Hokies’ defense. Overall, the Buckeyes are T-61st in turnovers lost with 22, so there could be opportunities for the Ducks’ defense to get the ball back for its high-powered offense.
Both teams have shown all season long that, for the most part, no defense will stop their respective offenses for any appreciable length of time. Thus, a safe bet is that whichever team wins the turnover battle will stand a better-than-average chance of winning the game. It may be trite or a cliché, but that, the number of turnovers, will very likely prove to be the bottom line.
IF IT COMES DOWN TO A FIELD GOAL…
… Ohio State could be screwed.
Sean Nuernberger has made just 13 of his 20 field-goal attempts this season. He’s missed half of his 10 attempts from between 40-49 yards, and hasn’t attempted one from beyond 50.
Meanwhile, two Oregon kickers, Aidan Schneider and Matt Wogan, have combined to make 16 of the team’s 19 field-goal attempts. Oddly enough, though, they’ve missed four extra point attempts this season, while Nuernberger has made all 83 of his point afters.
When it comes to punting and the possibility of flipping field position, though, that’s a decided advantage for OSU. Cameron Johnston is one of the top punters in the country, averaging 45.3 yards per punt (seventh nationally). He’s put 24 of his 45 punts inside the 20-yard line, and 16 of his efforts went 50 or more yards.
Conversely, UO’s punter, Ian Wheeler, averaged just 39 yards per punt, with only 10 of his 41 boots pinning the opposition inside the 20.
This is another significant advantage, Ohio State.
While not an injury, there will be another absence of significance for the Ducks as second-leading receiver, yardage-wise, Darren Carringtonwill miss the title game because of a failed drug test. Special teams ace Ayele Forde will not play either because of his own suspension for a failed drug test. The injuries and suspensions, though, means that the Ducks will be without three of their top five pass-catchers in 2014 for the biggest game in the football program’s history.
For OSU, they are relatively healthy for having played 14 games, (likely) getting back top tight endJeff Heuerman and running back Dontre Wilson (broken foot) for good measure. Heuerman, despite missing four complete games, is tied for the team lead among tight ends with 17 receptions while Wilson is sixth on the team with 112 rushing yards and fifth in receptions with 21.
Wilson, incidentally, is from Texas and was originally committed to the Ducks before flipping to the Buckeyes in February of 2013.
For those into this kind of thing — not that there’s anything wrong with it — below are the uniforms that both teams will be wearing during Monday night’s first-ever CFP championship game:
(Photo credit: Nike)
Ohio State, +7 (opened +7)
Those who know or know of Kyle Whittingham are already very aware that the Utah head coach is as classy an individual as there is in the college coaching game. The latest example of said classiness?
During Utah’s loss to Oregon Saturday night, Ducks tight end Pharaoh Brown sustained a significant and season-ending leg injury. Significant enough, in fact, that Brown underwent surgery almost immediately to repair the damage and remains, as of Tuesday morning, in a Salt Lake City hospital.
During his press conference Monday, Whittingham stated that he would go to the hospital a second time to try to see the injured player. And, yes, that’s right — Whittingham had already attempted to see Brown but, due to bad timing, couldn’t connect.
“I went over (Sunday), but he was in surgery, so I timed it not real good,” Whittingham said. “But he’s here (in Salt Lake City) and I’ll get over there at some point, if not today, the next couple of days.”
Bravo, Coach Whittingham. Bravo.
Injured Oregon TE Pharaoh Brown lost for the year, remains in a Salt Lake City hospital
It’s hard to imagine a more costly win that the 51-27 victory No. 4 Oregon quote-unquote enjoyed at No. 17 Utah on Saturday night. The Ducks lost cornerback Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, center Hroniss Grasu and tight end Pharaoh Brown to injury over the course of the evening.
And now we’ve learned that Brown has been lost for the year.
Helfrich said Brown is out for the season. Long-term prognosis will be clearer as his injury is addressed by doctors in the coming days.
Sadly, the injury was one of those one-in-a-million shots that leave you replaying all the things that had to go exactly wrong for it to happen. In the words of CSNNW.com:
The way the injury occurred was a total fluke. Brown fired out up field when his left foot landed on the right foot of tight end Evan Baylis, lined up inside to Brown’s left.
Brown stumbled a bit after stepping on Baylis’ foot and then extended his right leg to regain his balance. But he planted the right foot awkwardly, resulting in his weight moving forward and over the leg, causing it to buckle at the knee.
Brown caught 25 passes for 420 yards and six touchdowns this season.
Oregon, who clinched its first Pac-12 North championship since 2011 with the win, coasts to the end of the regular season with a home date against Colorado and a road date at Oregon State before a presumptive date with AP No. 7 Arizona State for the conference championship in what would be a de facto College Football Playoff quarterfinal game.