Utes without Zack Moss and Britain Covey vs. Washington State; Covey may redshirt, Kyle Whittingham says

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Utah players prepare to take the field as the Utah Utes host the Washington State Cougars, NCAA football at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City on Saturday Sept. 28, 2019.

Questions persisted in August about whether or not Utah running back Zack Moss and receiver Britain Covey would be available for the season opener at BYU. The outcome was favorable to the Utes then, but not so Saturday night in a 38-13 defeat of Washington State at Rice-Eccles Stadium.

Moss sat out the homecoming game at Rice-Eccles Stadium after sustaining a shoulder injury in the first half at USC last weekend. Covey was sidelined with an undisclosed injury after absorbing a pounding on multiple plays against the Trojans.

Ute coach Kyle Whittingham had not updated Moss' status during the week, while hinting of other health issues that were “for us to know and deal with.”

The possibility exists of Covey's redshirting with two years of eligibility remaining, after playing in four games in 2019. The Utes have an open date before resuming the schedule Oct. 12 at Oregon State.

“Redshirting is not out of the question,” Ute coach Kyle Whittingham said, “but that’s certainly not a definitive decision right now."

Devin Brumfield started in place of Moss and Samson Nacua became the primary slot receiver in Covey’s absence.

Whittingham is “fairly confident we’ll have [Moss] back for the next game,” he said.

Moss missed two games in the middle of his freshman season of 2016, then was sidelined for the last five games last year after having knee surgery. He recovered from an apparent hand injury in August and ran for 187 yards vs. BYU, 80 yards vs. Northern Illinois and 106 yards on only 10 carries vs. Idaho State. He had 20 yards on six attempts before being hurt at USC. Moss needs 176 yards to become Utah’s career rushing leader as a senior.

Covey was thrown down on a running play at USC, drawing an unnecessary-roughness penalty, and took two hard hits on inside-screen receptions. In his recovery from knee surgery, he has not looked as quick and explosive as last year, when he led the team with 60 catches before being injured in the Pac-12 championship game vs. Washington.

Offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig's scheme often uses two tight ends, instead of a slot receiver. Covey had 10 catches for 77 yards through four games, compared with 27 receptions for 284 yards in the first four games of 2018.

Utah honors the 2004 football team

The original BCS-busters were celebrated Friday with induction into the Crimson Club Hall of Fame.

The '04 Utes joined the 1981 and '82 women's gymnastics teams, gymnast Kristina Baskett, track and field athlete Jeff Simonich and cross country skier Torin Koos in the ceremony. The Urban Meyer-coached football team went 12-0 with a Fiesta Bowl victory over Pittsburgh and earned a No. 4 final ranking.

Ute coach Kyle Whittingham was the defensive coordinator in '04 and current assistant coaches Morgan Scalley and Sione Po'uha were among the team's defensive stars. Offensively, the Utes featured quarterback Alex Smith.

Florida series becomes official

Having previously announced plans to play a Southeastern Conference opponent instead of BYU in 2022 and '23, Utah confirmed that Florida is booked for the home-and-home series, beginning in Gainesville, Fla. No dates were announced for those meetings, but the games vs. BYU were scheduled for the '22 season opener and Week 3 in '23.

Florida will become the first SEC football team to play in Salt Lake City, with Arkansas to follow in 2026.