Two senior starting defensive players on the Oregon State football team will have surgery, and miss game time.
Cornerback Brandon Hardin is the latest to go down. He’ll have left shoulder surgery and be out indefinitely.
Defensive tackle Kevin Frahm will have surgery on his right knee to repair torn meniscus, and he hopes to be back for the Sept. 10 game at Wisconsin.
And Thursday’s scrimmage didn’t help with the growing list of wounded.
“This is one of those things where you can’t blink, and must keep going,” coach Mike Riley said after Friday morning’s practice.
Hardin was injured Saturday night in practice. He remembers the hit that hurt, and saw it on video later. It didn’t look that bad.
Pain continued to the point he sat out two practices this week, and had an MRI on Thursday that revealed a fractured bone that requires a pin inserted to help it heal.
“They said it tried to dislocate and stayed in the joint,” Hardin said. “It fractured a bone. It’s strange that I did the rehab and it feels good, and I can still move it.”
The doctor will know more after surgery, but Hardin hopes to be back for Game 4 on Oct. 1 against Arizona State. However, he admits that could be wishful thinking.
“I’m trying to be optimistic,” Hardin said. “There’s some chance it could be worse. I was hugely disappointed, for me and the team. It’s hard to take, but the team will get through this, I’ll get through it. Hopefully, I’ll be back.”
The loss of Hardin hurts in many ways. Besides being a returning starter, he was a gunner on the punt team and kickoff coverage teams.
“He is a really, really good football player,” Riley said. “He impacts things in a lot of ways. He’s not only a good corner, he’s the best gunner in the (conference) and best kick cover guy in the (conference). He impacts field position a ton of ways. We hope he’s back soon.”
Sophomore Rashaad Reynolds, who was the No. 3 corner, steps in the starting role. Sophomore Sean Martin and junior Keynan Parker are the backups.
“I’ve been saying the next three guys are improving,” Riley said. “Now we’ll see how that shakes out. They’ve all been preparing hard for an opportunity. When something like this happens, somebody has to step in.”
The secondary was considered a strength of the team, but now has only one returning starter with safety Lance Mitchell.
Depth continues to be an issue. That’s why Riley moved freshman running back Malcolm Marable to corner. Naji Patrick already moved to corner from running back.
Both Frahm and Hardin are expected to get their surgeries done soon, as early as Monday.
“I saw Kevin go down, and that was scarier,” Hardin said. “It’s tough for him and I, and it’s tough for this team. It’s going to test us. I’d like to think that we are irreplaceable, but we have guys who are going to step up. We’ll see it in the first game.”
As for the fallout of the scrimmage, it hit OSU’s depth even more.
Freshman running back Terron Ward needed a cortisone shot in his knee; the same one he had meniscus surgery on in the offseason. He’s considered a candidate for playing time as a third-down back.
Second string outside linebacker D.J. Welch is out at least two-three weeks with sprained elbow. Reserve offensive guard Derek Nielsen is out indefinitely with an ankle injury.
Freshman running back Storm Woods, who was making a move on playing time, hurt his ankle.
Freshman defensive tackle Brandon Bennett rolled his ankle at the beginning of Saturday morning’s practice, and was on crutches.
“What’s unique about this is we had so many guys with offseason surgeries,” Riley said. “But, the cavalry will be coming some time in the season (as players return to health).”