Provo • Suspensions have weakened the BYU Cougars on the football field the past two weeks, with starting inside linebacker Spencer Hadley missing the Utah and Middle Tennessee State games and star receiver Cody Hoffman sitting out the MTSU game.
Hadley will remain suspended for the next three games, while Hoffman is expected back this week, provided he meets certain, undisclosed "standards" spelled out by coach Bronco Mendenhall.
But as the Cougars (2-2) prepare for Friday's trip to Logan to take on explosive Utah State (3-2) at 6 p.m., there's another reason some key players might have to watch from the sidelines: mounting injuries.
The notion that football teams suffer more injuries against bigger, more physical teams was disproved once again last Friday, as the Cougars suffered more bumps, bruises, sprains and the like against little Middle Tennessee State than in their previous three games combined against BCS schools Virginia, Texas and Utah.
After returning a kickoff 90 yards to set up BYU's first touchdown, Adam Hine suffered a concussion blocking for Paul Lasike on a subsequent kickoff and did not return. Considering that he was "out" for nearly two minutes, Hine's return for USU appears unlikely.
Inside linebacker Tyler Beck, who has filled in admirably for Hadley, suffered a "fairly severe hamstring injury," according to Mendenhall, and has to be considered doubtful. Offensive tackle De'Ondre Wesley made his first career start against MTSU, but suffered a shoulder injury.
"There were other [injuries], but those were the three that seem to be an issue right now," Mendenhall said after the game, referring to Hine, Beck and Wesley.
Running back Jamaal Williams has a concussion as well and didn't play against the Blue Raiders. He should be able to play on Friday in a game that will be televised nationally by the CBS Sports Network.
Mendenhall will provide injury updates Monday evening after practice.
Two other starting offensive linemen, right guard Ryker Mathews (hip) and right tackle Brock Stringham (shoulder) were late scratches against MTSU and could also presumably miss the Utah State game. Walk-on Kyle Johnson got the start in Mathews' place and Wesley was in Stringham's usual spot.
The makeshift offensive line played well Friday, but did commit two false start penalties, a concern for the coaching staff because it will face a loud, raucous crowd at Romney Stadium. The Cougars were penalized a season-high nine times for a season-high 80 yards.
"You know, I didn't even notice [the high number of penalties]," Mendenhall said. "But anytime there is close to 10, that is too many. One of the ones that is probably the most frustrating is the [false starts]. There seem to be a handful, a couple of those each game. Man, it is hard when you start first-and-15, rather than first-and-10. I would like to see those cleaned up."
The Cougars were able to get away with five turnovers as well, something they can't afford to do against a quality opponent such as Utah State, which is favored by around six points.
"I am concerned with the ball security overall," Mendenhall said, while noting that the Cougars missed Williams on Friday because the sophomore running back rarely fumbles the ball.
BYU at Utah State
P Friday, 6 p.m.
TV • CBS Sports Network