Provo • Aside from his regular role on the kickoff team, there’s a good chance that BYU’s Marcus Mathews will not get into the game on Friday night when the Cougars meet Utah State at Romney Stadium.
But that’s OK with him, for now. After all, Mathews will always have the night of Sept. 30, 2011.
That’s when the junior receiver from Beaverton, Ore., caught the game-winning pass in BYU’s come-from-behind 27-24 win over the Aggies in Provo. After Riley Nelson had led the Cougars nearly the length of the field in the final minute, his throw skipped off the hands of J.J. DiLuigi directly into Mathews’ hands, and the Cougars had their revenge for the previous year’s 31-16 loss in Logan.
“Obviously, that was the highlight of my career,” Mathews recalled Tuesday. “I still have the picture of it up on my refrigerator. I am never going to forget it.”
Making the play even more memorable for Mathews was the fact that it came against the Aggies.
“I have a lot of family that went to Utah State. Got a lot of family that still lives up in Logan. I mean, beating an in-state rival is a big thing, especially in that fashion,” he said.
Mathews said his mother, Lisa, was born in Logan and his grandfather, Kent Erickson, still lives there and is one of those guys who “wears his Aggie hat and his BYU T-shirt at the same time.”
Of course, Mathews’ younger brother, Mitch, should play a lot in the 6 p.m. game, which will be televised by the CBS College Sports Network. The sophomore is tied for the second-leading receiver on the team behind Cody Hoffman, with eight catches for 122 yards.
Marcus Mathews, however, is sort of the forgotten man in the BYU offense, mostly due to injuries, illnesses and position changes that dropped him well down the depth chart heading into the season.
He caught eight passes for 136 yards his freshman year (2010) before rupturing his spleen and missing the last four games of the season. In 2011, he started in three games and played in all 13, making 27 catches for 299 yards. His future looked bright.
Last year, he played in three games before suffering an illness that caused him to miss the remainder of the season. That became his redshirt year. He said it hasn’t been easy to go from valuable contributor to sideline cheerleader, but he’s keeping a positive attitude.
“Every real football player is going to want to play,” Mathews said. “But to have a good team, every guy has to have a role, and right now my role isn’t to play a bunch. … But I am doing what I gotta do, putting my head down and working, so I am ready when my opportunity comes. I know it is going to come. It is just a matter of time. I know I am a good player. I know I can help the team. It is just a matter of when.”
Coach Bronco Mendenhall said on his radio show Wednesday night that kick returner Adam Hine (concussion) will not play Friday night. … Linebacker Tyler Beck (hamstring) will be a game-time decision. Inside linebackers coach Kelly Poppinga said if Beck can’t go, senior Austen Jorgensen will get the start at buck linebacker and will be backed up by sophomore Manoa Pikula, who is normally an outside linebacker. … BYU’s defense is ranked ninth nationally in third-down conversion defense, allowing opponents to convert just 25.71 percent of the time.
BYU at Utah State
P Friday, 6 p.m.
TV • CBS College Sports Network