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BYU football: Injured Unga's status will be a game-time decision
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2009, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Running back Harvey Unga says it was "excruciatingly difficult" to watch his BYU teammates play against Oklahoma last Saturday at Cowboys Stadium and not be able to join them because of a lingering hamstring injury.

He might have to do it again this Saturday when the No. 9 Cougars play at Tulane.

Coach Bronco Mendenhall said after practice Wednesday that Unga's status for the game is probable.

"I was hoping I would know for sure by today," Mendenhall said. "But it is probably going to be game-time again. He practiced some today. He will practice [Thursday], some, as well, and then we will make a decision on game day."

Unga said he still feels some tightness when he stretches his leg or attempts to make sharp cuts.

"I am not one to get people's hopes up, or make [predictions], so I will leave that up to the doc or the coaches, and let them decide that. Then I will take it from there. Cougar nation knows just as much as I do, right now," he said.

BYU's other injured player, linebacker Matt Bauman (concussion) will return to practice on Thursday and is expected to play Saturday, Mendenhall said.

Age advantage?

It didn't take long for someone to bring up BYU's so-called missionary advantage after the Cougars beat Oklahoma 14-13 and climbed to No. 9 in the Associated Press Top 25. Tulane coach Bob Toledo , who has been at UCLA and New Mexico, among other stops, brought up the topic on his own during his weekly news conference Tuesday.

"I've played BYU several times. They're an older, much more mature football team than anybody in the country. They've got guys going on two-year missions and they come back," he said. "I would venture to say that I heard that there's like 40-something guys that are married on that football team and I know they have kids, too.

"So, they're mature guys who are responsible people, too. But they're an experienced football team because of the Mormon faith they have to do the two-year mission as I mentioned. ... I know one guy went away as a quarterback and when he came back he was a nose tackle."

Sixty players on BYU's current team have served LDS Church missions, which are not mandatory, but encouraged. Thirty-six players are married, and five have children: Brandon Bradley , Coleby Clawson , Jason Speredon , Manase Tonga and Dan Van Sweden .

BYU on Bourbon Street?

Toledo has jokingly suggested several times this week that the only way Tulane can beat BYU is if the Cougars spend some time on New Orleans' famed Bourbon Street.

But BYU's Bronco Mendenhall , a coach with a more serious personality, says the Cougs' tight schedule won't leave any time for sightseeing.

"Besides the opponents we play, we try to give our players a fantastic experience [when we schedule], and there will be many of them who haven't been to the New Orleans area since [Hurricane Katrina] hit. They will be now playing in the Superdome, which was housing so many of those people," Mendenhall said. "It will give us a chance to talk about things that we have, blessings, and possibly how to serve others, and seeing an area that was hit hard, and a lot of people lost homes by natural disaster, so to speak, and so it is not only the football game, and not only the chance to play in the Superdome, but to have life lessons go with it."

Mendenhall said he is familiar with New Orleans because it was part of his recruiting territory when he coached at Louisiana Tech. Asked for his thoughts on the town, he replied, after a long pause, "It's not Alpine, Utah," which is his hometown.

Briefly

Quarterback Max Hall is the Davey O'Brien Foundation Quarterback of the Week for his performance in BYU's win over Oklahoma.

drew@sltrib.com" Target="_BLANK">drew@sltrib.com

BYU at Tulane

Saturday, 1:30 p.m. MDT TV » ESPN2

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