Oregon senior linebacker Kaulana Apelu made four tackles in Saturday’s 42-21 win over UCLA before leaving the game with an injury.
Ducks coach Mario Cristobal said Monday that Apelu suffered a small fracture to his lower leg, which will keep him out of Oregon’s final three games against Utah, Arizona State and Oregon State.
It’s not as severe as the fractured ankle that caused him to miss the final eight games of his junior season, but the injury is in the same area. Cristobal said he could be back for the Ducks’ bowl game they clinched with the win over the Bruins.
“He will be right there with me at practice coaching,” Cristobal said during Monday’s press conference. “He’s the heart and soul, one of the many guys that are together the heart and soul of the football team. His presence is necessary … he will be very active among our football team in any way that we can involve him.”
Apelu, a 2015 Kamehameha alumnus, is currently second on the team with 58 tackles and has five tackles for loss and two sacks.
He has had a long history of injuries. He suffered a torn ACL in the first game of both his junior and senior seasons at Kamehameha.
He walked-on at Oregon in 2015 and earned a scholarship prior to the start of the 2017 season. He played in five games last year before the lower-leg injury.
Redshirt freshman Isaac Slade-Matautia, a 2017 Saint Louis alumnus, is Apelu’s backup at middle linebacker, but has missed the last two games with a shoulder injury.
Slade-Matautia also dealt with a shoulder injury his senior season at Saint Louis. In seven games with the Ducks this year, he has made 20 tackles with two tackles for loss.