PROVO — Injuries are starting to become more of an issue for the BYU football program, with BYU coach Kalani Sitake hoping his depth will help overcome some significant attrition in recent weeks.
Most notable of those lost on Saturday was running back and leading rusher Ty’Son Williams, who was found lying on the ground being attended to by trainers toward the end of the first half of BYU’s 45-19 loss to Washington. Williams had just accounted for a 16-yard reception, but an apparent hit to the knee saw the graduate transfer helped off and not able to return to action.
The extent of the injury was unknown, although BYU coach Kalani Sitake mentioned they’d know later on Saturday evening.
“We’re just hoping and praying for him,” Sitake said, stating that if Williams’ injury forces him to miss games that “we’re going to have to look into our depth and see how our depth is going to respond.”
As for players, the loss of Williams was a notable blow.
“That one hurt, but he’s confident that it’s nothing major,” said BYU tight end Matt Bushman. “But we just hope the best. He’s a great guy and a great teammate.”
- Brigham Young Cougars head coach Kalani Sitake looks on as Brigham Young Cougars running back Ty’Son Williams (5) is helped after an injury in Provo on Saturday, Sept. 21, 2019. Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
- Brigham Young Cougars running back Ty’Son Williams (5) is injured in Provo on Saturday, Sept. 21, 2019. Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
- Brigham Young Cougars running back Ty’Son Williams (5) is injured while running against the Washington Huskies in Provo on Saturday, Sept. 21, 2019. Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
Replacing Williams was primarily fellow graduate transfer Emmanuel Esukpa, who finished play on Saturday with 49 yards on just nine carries.
“He just came in and did his job. He does it all the time in practice,” said BYU defensive back Dayan Ghawoloku. “He knows what he’s doing. He knows the plays, so we have full confidence he can come in and make plays.”
As for Esukpa, he responded to his readiness to step into the primary running back slot with a simple, “Yes, sir,” while stating how hard it was to see his good friend leave with injury.
“It was heartbreaking because we’ve gotten pretty close since I’ve been here,” Esukpa said.
Unfortunately for the Cougars, the injury to Williams was just one of several encountered over the past few games. Most notable stands the loss of senior linebacker Zayne Anderson, whom Sitake confirmed will likely miss the rest of the year due to his injured shoulder.
“He was never really 100%, so I think he’s scheduled to have another surgery, and we’ll miss him,” Sitake said.
Other players who couldn’t play on Saturday due to injury were linebacker Keenan Pili and tight end Moroni Laulu-Pututau. Who will play next week versus Toledo is up in the air, although Sitake hopes for the best.
“We put a huge emphasis on our depth this year and now we’ll see what it looks like when we take the field against Toledo,” Sitake said.