This is the obligatory update on the status of Puka Nacua and Gunner Romney.
And this week, the update can be summed up like this: There is no update.
BYU’s top two receivers will again be game-time decisions against No. 25 Oregon. According to wide receivers coach Fesi Sitake, the two were in practice this week and running. However, he did not estimate how close to 100% both are.
“They look a lot better than last week,” Sitake said. “It is day-to-day. It really is a game-time deal. ... They have been practicing and doing drills. Percentage-wise I am not targeting that. I just know they are running and they look good.”
Nacua and Romney were both game-time decisions against Baylor, but did not play. Romney is yet to play this season. Nacua played the first half of Week 1, but went out with an ankle injury and hasn’t been seen since.
After the game against South Florida, head coach Kalani Sitake said the X-rays on Nacua were negative and structurally everything was fine. However, in a radio interview before the Baylor game, Sitake said he thought Nacua should rest.
“Once the adrenaline wore off [after the USF game], the X-rays came back, and we were told it was probably best to rest him this week,” he said.
Without Nacua and Romney, BYU has relied on a trio of younger players to man the receiving room. Redshirt freshman Chase Roberts had 122 yards receiving against Baylor, becoming the first BYU freshman since 2010 to have over 100 yards.
Fesi Sitake expects Roberts to have a similar approach against Oregon.
“I think it gets easier,” Sitake said of Roberts’ expectations after a record performance. “When you play football — despite the opponent, the atmosphere and all that — that first big, breakthrough game is that weight off your shoulders. Every game brings different challenges. I am not going to say it is going to be a breeze from here on out. But my guess is he has got that game out of the way and it was a good one.”
A hostile environment
BYU practiced outside this week ahead of going to Eugene, Ore. It rained on Tuesday and Wednesday — with heavy showers on Tuesday — but the team wanted to get a feel for what it will be like in Oregon.
On Saturday, the weather is forecasted to be a high of 65 degrees and a low of 47 degrees. It is expected to be cloudy.
Of more concern than the weather, though, is the crowd noise. Autzen Stadium is known for being one of the louder venues in college football. For a top-25 matchup, the environment will likely be raucous ahead of a 12:30 p.m. local kick.
The offense brought in several speakers to simulate the noise this week. Quarterback Jaren Hall worked on communicating in that environment. So far, BYU has only been on the road this season at Raymond James Stadium. With USF in a professional stadium, it wasn’t overly loud.
“We have had speakers surrounding us so we can get the feel of cadences and things like that,” Roberts said.
Sitake added that, “you have to practice for that stuff.”
What version of Oregon will BYU see?
BYU’s mantra this week has been out of a textbook: turn the page.
It’s the common refrain around the program as it comes off an emotional win over Baylor. There is no rest for the Cougars, as they face another top-25 team in Oregon just six days later.
It isn’t necessarily unfamiliar territory. BYU played a ranked Utah team last year and turned around to play Arizona State a week later. It successfully navigated that challenge.
However, this week will be tricky. The styles of Oregon and Baylor, at least on offense, will likely be different. Baylor tried to run the ball 52 times against the Cougars. Cornerback Kaleb Hayes expects this week to be more of a perimeter game as Oregon flashes its athletes.
“I think we match pretty well with them,” Hayes said.
Oregon has thrown the ball an average of 39 times in the first two weeks of the season. But it still is a team with plenty of unknowns. The first week of the season, the Ducks lost to Georgia 49-3. Then they turned around to beat Eastern Washington 70-14. So what team shows up to play BYU is anybody’s guess right now.
“This is a different beast this week,” Kalani Sitake said. “A lot of talent. ... They made a huge improvement from Week 1 to Week 2 in their execution. I know they played against Eastern Washington. That is a perennial in the FCS division and they have beaten FBS teams before and even Power Five teams. So to score that many points on a team like that, it is actually tough.”