The University of Oregon announced on Tuesday morning that Thurmond would miss the remainder of the year after suffering a season-ending knee injury on the opening kickoff of last Saturday's 42-3 win over California in Autzen Stadium.
In a media statement release, the Oregon Athletic Department said that surgery is required to repair Thurmond's right knee. Though the surgery date has yet to be determined, the recovery time would eliminate any chance of Thurmond playing in the regular season or in any post-season games.
Kelly indicated he had a "great visit" with Thurmond last night and it was Kelly who felt worse about the situation than Thurmond.
"I was feeling bad for Walt and he kind of picked me up and that's a testament to the kind of kid he is," admitted Kelly. "He understands that injuries are part of the game and unfortunately he has his and it's how he deals with it and how he moves on from this point forward."
Kelly feels Thurmond will still be a leader on the team and someone for the other players to look up to.
"His attitude is unbelievable and I think it is contagious to our team," observed Kelly. "He'll still be a leader and still be with the football team, but he'll just not be able to suit up for us when we play on Saturdays."
The Oregon secondary will have to do some retooling in order to make sure the depth is adequate. Likely, senior Willie Glasper will take over Thurmond's spot. If T.J. Ward can return to service this week the depth issue greatly improve. During his weekly media conference on Monday, Kelly mentioned that Kenjon Barner would take over punt return duties and will also do kick returns along with LaMichael James.
Kelly was also asked about Washington State quarterback Jeff Tuel, the one bright spot for the Cougars so far this season. Tuel entered the game against USC last Saturday and was able to lead drive against the Trojans and give some hope for the Cougars' future. Kelly believes did a very nice job against USC. The Oregon coach thinks the young WSU quarterback throws a nice ball and "didn't seem to be rattled in the Coliseum." Kelly believes Tuel can hurt the opposition with both his feet and arm.
"He's a talented young quarterback that we are preparing for," said Kelly of Tuel. "He presents problems with not only his arm but his legs."
The Ducks (3-1) square off against the Cougars on Saturday with kickoff scheduled for 6:15 p.m. (PT). The game will be carried live on Comcast Sports.
Listen to the complete Kelly portion of the Pac-10 media conference.
Thurmond Picks Up Kelly's Spirits
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