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BYU football: Star receiver Cody Hoffman shines vs. San Jose State despite injury

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BYU's Cody Hoffman reaches up for the ball in the back of the end zone as BYU and Notre Dame play Saturday, Oct. 20, 2012 in South Bend.

BYU’s Cody Hoffman reaches up for the ball in the back of the end zone as BYU and Notre Dame play Saturday, Oct. 20, 2012 in South Bend.

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

PROVO — Just before halftime last Saturday at San Jose State, BYU wide receiver Cody Hoffman sustained a shoulder separation.

Not that Hoffman let that slow him down. "The trainers fixed me up good," he said. "I didn't really notice it."

Hoffman finished the night with a career-high of 13 receptions for 155 yards. But perhaps his most memorable play came on special teams, when he recovered an onside kick late in the game, setting up a potential game-winning drive.

"I knew where the ball was going, but we ran it in practice numerous times and we never actually got it," Hoffman said of the onside kick. "It was nice that it actually worked out when we needed it to. I saw the (San Jose State player) jump up and the ball hit him in the back. It just kind of fell right in my lap. That's all I could ask for. I didn't get hit or anything, which was good."

The Cougars drove to the SJSU 20-yard line with 1:20 left in the game, but quarterback Riley Nelson was blindsided by the Spartans' Keith Smith. Nelson fumbled and SJSU pounced on the ball, thwarting the Cougars' comeback attempt. BYU fell, 20-14.

"It was definitely disappointing, but I know everybody tried their hardest," Hoffman said of the loss. "We did what we could and as an offense we fell a little short."

As for his individual performance? "I felt like it was good, but not enough to be able to come out with the victory. I felt like it could have been better since we didn't win."

Hoffman has been spending a lot of time in the trainers' room receiving treatment this week and is expected to play Saturday (1:30 p.m., MT, ESPN3) when BYU visits New Mexico State.

"I really felt the pain on Sunday, but it's gradually getting better," Hoffman said. "That's all I could ask for."

Coach Bronco Mendenhall appreciates Hoffman's efforts, particularly in recent games.

"He's gaining momentum," he said. "That last couple of games he's been emerging, maybe a little bit beyond where he finished last year. I like the way he's played the last couple of games."

This season, Hoffman has been one of the few bright spots for the Cougar offense.

Through 11 games, he has recorded six 100-yard receiving games and he has hauled in 78 passes for 952 yards and six touchdowns. Hoffman needs only 48 yards in the final two games to reach the 1,000-yard receiving plateau. BYU hasn't had a 1,000-yard receiver since 2008, when both Austin Collie and Dennis Pitta accomplished the feat. Last season, Hoffman finished with 943 receiving yards.

"Overall, this year has been better than last year. I just try to build upon every year," Hoffman said. "Statistically, it's been better, but as far as wins and losses, it hasn't been as good."

With his effort last Saturday, Hoffman moved past Gordon Hudson to No. 6 in career receptions at BYU with 181. Pitta is the all-time leader with 221 catches. And Hoffman is No. 9 all-time in receiving yardage with 2,422, having surpassed Chris Smith. He needs just eight yards to overtake Mark Bellini at No. 8 and 63 yards to eclipse Hudson at No. 7.

Also, Hoffman has caught a pass in 30 consecutive games, tied for the 10th longest streak in the country.

But Hoffman isn't focused on all of those numbers. He said he wants to see his team end the year on a good note.

"It's definitely been a rocky season," he said. "It's not what we expected knowing the talent that we have and the close games that we've lost that we should have won. It's been a tough season, but we're not going to let it get us down. We're just going to finish strong."

EXTRA POINTS: The Cougars will practice Thanksgiving morning, Mendenhall said … BYU defeated New Mexico State last season in Provo, 42-7 … The Cougars have an all-time record of 23-8-1 when playing in the state of New Mexico … BYU is 4-3 under Mendenhall in regular-season finales.

Cougars on the air

BYU (6-5) at New Mexico State (1-9)

Saturday, 1:30 p.m., MT Aggie Memorial Stadium, Las Cruces, N.M.


Radio: 1160 AM, 102.7 FM