Provo • The good news regarding the chest-area injury suffered by BYU starting linebacker Uani Unga in Saturday’s 19-16 loss to Virginia is that CAT scans and X-rays performed after the game showed no major physical damage, coach Bronco Mendenhall said Monday.
The bad news is that Unga was in so much pain, and has lost so much strength, that he can’t do a pushup.
“He actually hurt it in the first quarter, and made it all the way to the second-to-last series,” Mendenhall said. “Finally, he just couldn’t go any more.”
Asked if Unga can play against Texas on Saturday, Mendenhall said: “That’s a good question. We are hoping.”
As for star receiver Cody Hoffman, who missed the Virginia game due to a hamstring injury, Mendenhall said it is too early to say whether Hoffman can go against the No. 15 Longhorns.
“They are saying 80 to 85 percent is where they thought it was on Saturday [and he didn’t play],” Mendenhall said. “So, man, I am hopeful for this upcoming game, especially with it being a night game, gives us a little bit more time.”
No bad feelings?
When BYU refused to allow junior college transfer Desmond Harris credit for taking an online class last spring from BYU because the school has not made those classes available to non-BYU student-athletes since 2006, Texas went to the NCAA to get the offensive tackle eligible.
Harris missed most of camp due to the dispute, which was actually between BYU and Contra Costa (Calif.) Community College, but got in on 23 plays last week against New Mexico State.
However, it does not appear the Longhorns are using the case for motivation this week against BYU.
“It didn’t have anything to do with the two football programs,” said Texas coach Mack Brown. “Bronco Mendenhall is a good friend, and we’ve never mentioned it. These kids are focused on a football game and not some online class.”
When the dispute was going on last month, a BYU football official said Mendenhall was not even aware of the controversy.
Hill also gritty, tough
Mendenhall was fond of calling quarterback Riley Nelson “gritty” and “tough” last year, sometimes to the consternation of Cougar fans who wanted to see a different quarterback play when Nelson was clearly ailing with a back injury.
Asked about Taysom Hill’s play on Saturday, Mendenhall said: “I would just say he was gritty, and tough. He will learn as we go about managing the game, and making the critical plays. But he gave us a chance [to win] from the beginning to the end.”
Senior defensive lineman Eathyn Manumaleuna recorded 10 tackles, a career high. Junior LB Alani Fua had eight tackles, also a career-high. The interception safety Craig Bills grabbed against Virginia was the third of his career, but first since 2009.
Mendenhall also praised juco transfer Robertson Daniel, saying that Daniel adjusted so well that “I called the game like he was [injured] Jordan Johnson, like a returning player.”
Of the seven penalties committed by BYU on Saturday, none were committed by the defense. ... QB Hill said he will most likely wear the left knee brace the entire season, perhaps the rest of his career.
Texas at BYU
P Saturday, 5 p.m.
TV • ESPN2