Fears that third-year freshman Kody Epps, BYU’s leading receiver, will be out for the season after he sustained an apparent shoulder injury two weeks ago at Liberty were confirmed Monday by head coach Kalani Sitake.

Epps did not play in last Friday’s 27-24 loss to East Carolina.

“Unfortunate,” said Sitake during his weekly press briefing as the Cougars started preparations to face 6-2 Boise State on Saturday at Albertsons Stadium. “We were hoping to get some (more positive) information back in meeting with the doctors, but that sucks, because he has dealt with some injuries in the past.”

“It is towards the end of the year. We have a bye after this game, so this is 10 weeks straight. We knew we were going to have to test our depth, and I hate that we have had to test it as often as we have had to this year. But that’s the game. Nobody is feeling sorry for us. We gotta keep rolling.” — BYU football coach Kalani Sitake

Epps, a 5-foot-11, 185-pound receiver from Los Angeles who prepped at Mater Dei High and was a high school teammate of Alabama quarterback Bryce Young, dealt with nagging foot and ankle injuries in 2020 and 2021 but had broken out this year with 39 catches for 463 yards and six touchdowns.

“He is in high spirits,” Sitake said. “I have spoke with him and he is excited to keep his role as a leader on this team, and to keep working with us. So I am excited about his energy and his approach to it. Not excited that we don’t get his production on the field.”

Another offensive starter who missed Friday’s game due to injury, Cal transfer running back Chris Brooks, has a hamstring issue and is not out for the season, Sitake said.

“It is kind of a day-to-day, week-to-week thing with Chris,” Sitake said. “Even today, I don’t know as much as I should. I will probably know more later. But it is not season-ending, from what we understand.”

Brooks remains BYU’s leading rusher with 463 yards on 76 carries, and is third on the team in touchdowns with five. In Brooks’ absence Friday, Lopini Katoa rushed for a season-high 116 yards on 20 carries, and Miles Davis picked up 46 yards on 11 carries.

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Quarterback Jaren Hall also appeared at Monday’s press briefing and said the injuries are just part of college football and won’t keep the Cougars from competing hard against the Broncos, who have won four straight games. BYU (4-5) has lost four straight.

“You always pray for their health. You would like to see them get back as soon as they can, and you want all of your weapons out there at the same time,” Hall said. “But the nature of football is that it is a physical game.

“Not a lot of teams in the country go through the whole season with all their guys on the field at the same time,” Hall continued. “That’s the reality. You can’t really make excuses with that. You can’t let that become a burden for anybody to try to carry more weight.”

Puka Nacua (seven catches, 79 yards), Brayden Cosper (four catches, 37 yards) and Keanu Hill (three catches, 11 yards) were targeted the most against ECU in Epps’ absence.

“I got a lot of confidence in all of our guys, and we have seen it all year,” Hall said. “Everybody stepped up at certain points and made plays, so now it is a matter of, ‘How can we get everybody that is available to have the best game of their season at the same time?’ I think that is what we have been lacking and something that can help us find a spark again and get rolling like we know we can.”

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On the defensive side, rover linebacker Payton Wilgar missed his second straight game with a lower leg injury, and is questionable on Saturday. Flash linebacker Chaz Ah You sustained an injury early in the game and did not return. Free safety Malik Moore and reserve defensive lineman Josh Larsen have been out for awhile with season-ending injuries and linebacker Max Tooley missed the ECU game with an undisclosed ailment.

Sitake did not give any defensive player injury updates.

“It is towards the end of the year. We have a bye after this game, so this is 10 weeks straight. We knew we were going to have to test our depth, and I hate that we have had to test it as often as we have had to this year,” Sitake said. “But that’s the game. Nobody is feeling sorry for us. We gotta keep rolling.

“We have some young guys that have to step up and make plays and give us some production. I don’t know all the details of all the stuff ... as far as injuries go. The players will probably release it or announce it if their injuries are season-ending.”


Cougars on the air

BYU (4-5)

at Boise State (6-2)

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Saturday, 5 p.m.

Albertsons Stadium, Boise, Idaho

TV: FS2

Radio: KSL NewsRadio 102.7 FM/1160 AM

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