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Stanford Loses Key DE Gardner

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Stanford lost defensive end Ben Gardner for the season with a left pectoral injury. Photo by Stephen Lam/Getty Images.
Stanford lost defensive end Ben Gardner for the season with a left pectoral injury. Photo by Stephen Lam/Getty Images.

Stanford's defense lost one of its key lineman as fifth-year senior captain Ben Gardner injured his left pectoral Saturday against Oregon State, the San Jose Mercury News reported Tuesday.

The defensive lineman made 4.5 sacks and 7.5 tackles for loss in 2013 and was a second-team all-Pac-12 performer in 2011 and 2012. Gardner was playing through an unrelated injury when he injured his chest in the third quarter. He will have surgery and will not be available for the bowl game, ESPN reported.

The injury occurred due to "bad body position at the wrong time," coach David Shaw said.

Gardner tweeted Tuesday from @BennyG49:

I love my teammates, my coaches, my university, and my fans. I'm choked up by all of the support. But we still got a job to do #beattheducks

It's bad timing for Stanford (7-1, 5-1), which faces Oregon (8-0, 5-0) on Nov. 7 with the Pac-12 North Division at stake. The other starting defensive end, Henry Anderson, has missed most of the season with a knee injury. Anderson also is a senior and a second-team all-Pac-12 performer last year. He has started individual drills and will attempt to practice next week, the San Jose Mercury News reported.

CBS Sports projects Gardner as a third-round pick in April.

Stanford's defense has allowed 19.4 points per game, but seemed to gel the last two outings, limiting two ranked teams with explosive offenses in UCLA and Oregon State to 10 and 14 points, respectively. Neither offense had scored fewer than 33 points in a game before facing the Cardinal.

Touted linebackers Shane Skov and Trent Murphy have a difficult task stopping Oregon's prolific offense, and Stanford's defensive line will have to pressure quarterback Marcus Mariota and hold the point of attack against the run without one of its best players in Gardner.