U.'s Tonga, Blechen will be back for 2014 season
Pullman, Wash. • Utah's offense was noticeably hampered when tight ends Jake Murphy and Westlee Tonga were both sidelined with injuries for four games this year.
The good news is both should be back for the 2014 season.
Tonga, a senior who hasn't played since injuring his knee against BYU on Sept. 21, will receive a redshirt for the year, according to Utah officials.
Tonga had just two catches for 28 yards this year.
Murphy, a junior, returned to action against Oregon after injuring his wrist in Utah's loss to UCLA on Oct. 10.
He finished with five catches for 102 yards on Saturday.
"He is a great player and you saw what he did with one hand out there," Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said. "We missed him and Tonga and it will be great to have them back."
Whittingham also said senior linebacker Brian Blechen will receive a redshirt and return for 2014. Blechen has been sidelined after having knee surgery in August.
Utah sophomore quarterback Travis Wilson made the trip to Pullman with his teammates.
Wilson, who is sidelined due to an intracranial arterial condition, didn't travel with the Utes a week ago to Oregon.
The Utes were without corner Davion Orphey and linebacker Jared Norris, who remained in Salt Lake City due to injuries. Norris also sat out the Oregon game. Thomas started at nickel against Oregon and at corner against ASU. Jacoby Hale started for the second game in a row in place of Norris.
WSU continues to upgrade its football facilities to keep pace with its opponents in the Pac-12.
In 2012, the Cougars undertook an $80 million project to build a new press box with club suites.
This year the Cougars are building a $61 million, 84,000 square-foot Football Operations Building in the west end zone.
The building will include a new weight room, training facility, coaches' offices and meeting rooms.
Washington State is just one of many Pac-12 schools to build such facilities in recent years.
Utah spent $32 million on its facility, Oregon spent $68 million on its building, Stanford dropped $21 million on a new building, Arizona spent $72 million to expand Arizona Stadium and build a football facility, USC opened a $70 million football facility in 2012, Cal spent $150 million on its high performance athletic center that opened in 2011 and Washington spent $280 million to renovate Husky Stadium.
Arizona State and Colorado both have plans to upgrade their facilities.
Jon Halliday handled the kickoffs along with Andy Phillips, who has struggled to get much distance on his kickoffs. ... WSU recognized 19 seniors before Saturday's game. Utah will honor its 19 seniors against Colorado.