Although it was a “humbled and disappointed” football team after losing 41-20 to Oregon last Saturday at Autzen Stadium, BYU should be healthier this weekend when the Wyoming Cowboys ride into LaVell Edwards Stadium, coach Kalani Sitake said Monday.
Calling the blowout loss to the Ducks a “missed opportunity” several times, Sitake said at his weekly press briefing that a couple of the four starters who were sidelined against Oregon could possibly play in the 8:15 p.m. MDT kickoff at Edwards Stadium against the 3-1 Cowboys.
However, a player who sustained an undisclosed injury early in the Oregon game, cornerback Kaleb Hayes, has been added to the injury list.
“We are hopeful to get them back. I don’t know what the right wording would be, but probable (might) be the right one. And then, (we) feel good about possibly getting Gunner and Puka back, too.” — BYU football coach Kalani Sitake
Sitake said defensive end Tyler Batty, who has an abdominal strain, “is closer than anyone” to being able to play Saturday. Batty made the trip to Eugene but was held out.
Fellow defensive end Earl Tuioti-Mariner has also been out with an injury.
“We are hopeful to get them back,” Sitake said. “I don’t know what the right wording would be, but probable (might) be the right one. And then, (we) feel good about possibly getting Gunner and Puka back, too.”
Receiver Gunner Romney has a lacerated kidney and has yet to see the field this season; receiver Puka Nacua sustained a high ankle sprain in the opener against South Florida and hasn’t played since, although he did make the trip to Oregon and was in a walking boot.
“We will see. I mean, I felt this way a couple weeks ago, too, so I have no idea anymore,” Sitake said. “We are just going to prepare for the worst and hope for the best.”
Asked for a “timetable” for the return of Hayes — who seemed to have sustained concussion-like symptoms because his helmet was taken away during the game — Sitake said the Oregon State transfer believes he “just needed a breather” and wanted to continue playing.
“We are going to work with our trainers and figure it out. Whatever is right. The last thing I want is for him to come back in when he is not ready and make things worse for him,” Sitake said. “He has a future in this game, so we will keep him safe, even from himself.”
Vanderbilt transfer Gabe Jeudy-Lally replaced Hayes and finished with three tackles. D’Angelo Mandell is the other starting corner.
Sitake said veteran nickels Jakob Robinson and Jacob Boren can also play corner. If the injury lingers, players such as Korbyn Green, Chika Ebunoha and junior college transfer Mory Bamba could also see their playing time elevated.
“We will have to see how Kaleb does this week,” Sitake said.
Kicking woes continue
Sitake was asked about the kicking situation after starter Jake Oldroyd missed his third-straight field goal attempt, dating back to the two misses against Baylor that would have won that game, in the second quarter against the Ducks.
Oldroyd made two PATs Saturday, but after their third TD the Cougars made an unsuccessful two-point conversion attempt.
The coach didn’t give Oldroyd a vote of confidence Monday, although the redshirt junior is still listed as the starter on the depth chart BYU released Monday. Redshirt freshmen Justen Smith and Cash Peterman are listed as the co-backups.
“Yeah, we need the kicking game to be a strength. They have done it before, so there is not much to it, other than just be accountable. And that is from everybody. We had mistakes on special teams, the penalties. Lack of discipline is a problem. And that is the entire team. We need to figure it out. We had some really bad penalties at bad times,” Sitake said.
“We gotta keep working on the fundamentals. The fundamentals of the game is what hurt us the most in that game. It wasn’t a lack of effort or energy or scheme. It was just not getting the little things, the fundamentals of the game, right.”
Cougars on the air
Wyoming (3-1) at No. 19 BYU (2-1)
Saturday, 8:15 p.m. MDT
LaVell Edwards Stadium
Radio: KSL Newsradio 102.7 FM/1160 AM