Poor Nate. Rob Moseley of the Register-Guard with more.
Nate Costa’s playing career with the Oregon football team ended with “a twist, and kind of a crunch, and a little pop mixed in there.”
That was Costa’s description of the knee injury he suffered on a botched field-goal attempt against Washington on Saturday. An MRI on Monday revealed significant enough damage to end Costa’s career after 23 appearances, one start, 71 passing attempts and three season-ending knee injuries.
Why is this important? Well in 2007, Oregon was cruising to what seemed like a sure national championship bid at 8-1…and then Dennis Dixon leg gave out on a Thursday night in Tucson. And that was the end, because Costa (guess) injured his knee for the first time and Brady Leaf was a statue in Chip Kelly’s up-tempo attack. The Ducks lost their final three games and ended up in the Sun Bowl.
Now, we have Bryan Bennett backing up DT. And while Bennett has by all accounts been impressive in practice this season, he’s a true freshman that hasn’t taken a snap in a game all season. You don’t really want to have to throw him in a game in the middle of a national title chase..
Things aren’t quite as dire—an Oregon loss doesn’t necessarily eliminate them from the BCS title game, and they’d still control their fate in the Pac-10 championship race.
What does it mean for the Cal game? Well, Kelly might be hesitant to burn Bennett’s redshirt…which could mean Thomas is on the field the entire game, regardless of score. Which could mean Thomas gets hit a lot more, which increases his chances of getting injured. Safe to say Oregon fans aren’t breathing until they see “12-0”.