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Cougars making best of bye week, ready to close out regular season

BYU wide receiver Neil Pau'u (2) turns back for the ball in front of Boise State guard Kekaula Kaniho (28) during the first half of an NCAA college football game Friday, Nov. 6, 2020, in Boise, Idaho. (AP Photo/Steve Conner)

For the first time in eight weeks, the BYU football team isn’t preparing for a game. Instead, the eighth-ranked Cougars are taking a much needed break with a bye week after playing seven consecutive games.
BYU’s schedule will pick right back up next week for the North Alabama game on Nov. 21.
But just because there’s no opponent to get ready for this week, it doesn’t mean the Cougars have hung up their cleats. They’re instead focusing on taking care of the bumps and bruises they’ve acquired throughout the season.
For the last few weeks, junior wide receiver Gunner Romney has been dealing with a hamstring issue that caused him to miss the Texas State game. Out of precaution, and once the Cougars had establish a significant lead, coaches pulled Romney the second half of the game.
Romney hasn’t been the only one to get banged up. Some of the other Cougars who have dealt with injuries so far have included Lopini Katoa, James Empey, Zayne Anderson and others.
“For me, this weekend was the perfect time just to get my body back to where it was when the season started and really just focus on the strength and conditioning, and just getting back in the swing of things,” Romney said.
However, if the Cougars had their way, they’d play every week.
And there’s still a chance BYU could add another game or two. Nothing’s been made official yet, but it’s a possibility.
After the Cougars host North Alabama, they have a another two weeks off before hosting San Diego State in what is currently scheduled as the regular-season finale.
Obviously, the window of opportunity has closed for this week. The best chance to get games added to the season would be between the two remaining games.

“But that’s something our administration controls, and I know Tom’s on top of it,” coach Kalani Sitake said. “If there’s an opportunity for that to happen, then great. … Whatever can happen, we’ll appreciate it.”
It also doesn’t matter which opponents get added.
“This team, we want to compete with anybody we can and just get as many opportunities that we can to play,” Romney said.
The most important part of playing the remainder of the season, however many games that is, will come down to managing COVID-19.
On Sunday, following a particularly devastating week, Gov. Gary Herbert issued a new State of Emergency in an effort to combat rising coronavirus cases and hospitalizations in the state.
Multiple college football teams around the nation have been forced to cancel or postpone games over the last couple of weeks due to outbreaks on the team. Over the last week, Utah has been forced to cancel its season opener against Arizona and has moved the following game, at UCLA, from Friday to Saturday.
Sitake has seen the impact COVID-19 has had over the sports world and believes it’s part of the new norm everyone’s living through this pandemic.
One could do everything right, but the virus shows it doesn’t matter — anyone can still contract it, Sitake said.
It just means teams have to be ready for whatever situation they’re presented with.
“The key is for us to try to minimize [exposure] as much as possible and do what our leaders are asking us to do,” Sitake said. “So we’re going to support that.”
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