BYU receiver Gunner Romney fights to get away form UAB safety Dy’jonn Turner in the Independence Bowl in Shreveport, Louisiana, on Saturday, Dec. 18, 2021. Romney is hopeful of playing in Thursday’s game against Utah State.
Scott G Winterton, Deseret News
When he got a question about his team’s health issues Monday during his weekly press briefing, BYU coach Kalani Sitake jokingly said he needed to take out his stethoscope and channel his inner doctor.
A few hours later, the mother of one of his players delivered the news a lot of BYU fans have been waiting to hear after Sitake and offensive coordinator Aaron Roderick hinted at it earlier in the day.
Receiver Gunner Romney’s mother, Jeni Romney, noted on Twitter that her son “will finally get to see the field this week” after being sidelined since the third practice of fall camp with a lacerated kidney.
The No. 19 Cougars play host to 1-3 Utah State on Thursday at LaVell Edwards Stadium (6 p.m., ESPN).
Jeni Romney said it was “such a freak accident” and doctors were “stumped” regarding how long the recovery process would take. Gunner, who returned for his fifth season in the program, landed on a football he was trying to catch and suffered the injury.
Roderick said during his “Coordinators’ Corner” program at noon Monday that he expects Romney to play as well. Romney warmed up before BYU’s 38-24 win over Wyoming last Saturday for the first time this season, but did not dress for the game
“I don’t want to get ahead of myself on (Romney), but I am expecting to have him,” Roderick said.
Naturally, attention now turns to the Cougars’ two other top receivers, Puka Nacua and Chase Roberts, who played Saturday against the Cowboys but did not finish the game.
Sitake said they are “still evaluating” Nacua, who sustained a lower leg injury of some sort in the fourth quarter. Then added: “From what I gather, no one is lost for the season yet.”
As for Roberts, who played in the first half and not the second, Roderick said the American Fork product should be “fine” and expects him to be available Thursday.
Another offensive player who left Saturday’s game, starting right tackle Kingsley Suamataia, is expected back as well, Sitake said.
On the defensive side, Sitake said linebacker Max Tooley, defensive linemen Gabe Summers and Earl Tuioti-Mariner should be able to play Thursday after all three were held out vs. Wyoming to allow them more recovery time.
Starting free safety Malik Moore suffered a hand injury and also missed the second half.
“Malik is still wait-and-see, but so far the one that is going to be out for a significant time is (Austin) Riggs (the long snapper).” Britton Hogan or Dalton Riggs will step in as the long snapper.
Sitake didn’t give an update on starting cornerback Kaleb Hayes, who missed the Wyoming game with a concussion. However, Hayes briefly jumped in on Sitake’s Zoom call Monday to proclaim him the “best coach ever.”
Backup defensive lineman Josh Larsen also left the game early, but Sitake did not provide an update on the former Woods Cross High star’s status.
“We held some guys out on game-time decisions, knowing that this game (USU) was going to be right around the corner,” Sitake said. “It was either going to be miss the game against Wyoming or miss the Utah State game. There is just not enough time to recover. And we figure that the recovery, having that extra time with the week, going into this short week, would be beneficial.”
Utah State (1-3) at No. 19 BYU (3-1)
Thursday, 6 p.m. MDT
LaVell Edwards Stadium
Radio: KSL Newsradio 102.7 FM/1160 AM
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