Weekend fears that BYU could be without two of its top offensive players against Arkansas on Saturday were put to rest Monday when Cougars coach Kalani Sitake held his weekly press briefing via Zoom.
“We are going to have to pressure him because I believe he will pick us apart if we don’t.” — Arkansas coach Sam Pittman on Jaren Hall
Sitake said he expects quarterback Jaren Hall and wide receiver Gunner Romney to play in the 1:30 pm MDT game at LaVell Edwards Stadium that will be televised by ESPN. The status of running back Miles Davis remains unclear after the Las Vegas product missed last week’s 28-20 loss to Notre Dame with a shin injury.
Davis is still listed as a co-starter on BYU’s depth chart with Chris Brooks and Lopini Katoa, while Romney and Hall are still listed as starters at their respective positions.
Asked for Hall’s status after saying the fifth-year junior QB was not at 100% against the Irish, Sitake didn’t specifically indicate much else, saying only that “he’s got no choice (but to play). He’s gotta go. This is midseason football, so he’s gotta be ready to roll.”
Immediately after the game in which he threw only 17 passes, a career-low for a game he’s finished, Hall initially said he was fine, but later acknowledged that earlier in the week it was a “different story.” He seemed to be favoring his right shoulder at some moments in the contest.
As for Romney, he apparently suffered some sort of injury after making a third-quarter catch. He entered the medical tent on BYU’s sidelines, and was later transported via cart to the locker room. It was later reported by BYUtv that Romney was taken to the hospital.
The senior missed the first four games of the season with a lacerated kidney.
Sitake said Monday that Romney, who has caught five passes for 59 yards, “got banged-up, and because of his previous injury, there is more caution that happens as far as sports medicine goes.”
Sitake said part of that caution involved running some tests at a nearby hospital in Las Vegas. He said Romney did not stay overnight in the hospital, but was released to his family for transportation home after the team had departed on its charter flight.
“We are looking forward to him being ready for us this week,” Sitake said.
Special teams coordinator and assistant head coach Ed Lamb repeated that on his “Coordinators’ Corner” program, saying the coaches “fully expect” Romney to be available this week.
“I think he’s good to go,” Lamb said.
Defensively, the Cougars played without secondary starters Malik Moore and Jakob Robinson and backup defensive lineman Josh Larsen. Defensive lineman Gabe Summers left the game with a lower leg injury — Gumby is still recovering from a PCL injury suffered in the opener — and did not return.
The statuses of those defensive players were not addressed by Sitake on Monday.
Meanwhile, Arkansas is dealing with a little bit of uncertainty at quarterback as well. Starter KJ Jefferson did not play in Saturday’s loss to Mississippi State due to an apparent head injury he sustained in the previous week’s loss to Alabama.
Arkansas coach Sam Pittman confirmed that this will be “a normal week” for the star QB, so that means Jefferson has apparently cleared the concussion protocol.
“He can’t get hit today would be that protocol, but he never gets hit in practice (anyway), so he can go ahead and do his full thing today,” Pittman said Monday morning.
Pittman called Hall “a really good quarterback” and said the Hogs will have to try to rattle him with some different methods.
“We are going to have to pressure him because I believe he will pick us apart if we don’t,” Pittman said. “We are going to have to stop the run and then we’ve got to pressure him, because if we don’t I think he’s really good and a really accurate thrower, and his receivers are big. They are 6-2 (tall) and better.”
Sitake also addressed several issues that are keeping the Cougars from winning — the slow starts, the problems getting the right personnel on the field, and the kicking situation. Jake Oldroyd did a great job kicking off, but wasn’t asked to attempt any field goals against ND after missing five of his last six.
Justin Smith missed his first PAT then made his last two. Oldroyd and Smith are listed as co-starters at place kicker on the depth chart.
“We keep competing. We will be fine,” Sitake said. “Everybody talks about kickers when they aren’t doing too well. But you look at the NFL. It is happening there, too. So it is not like the kickers are doing their jobs everywhere. That is part of the game.
“We have had enough drama already. We are going to keep competing, just like we do at every position and the best guys will play,” Sitake continued. “That is the only way I know how to do it, the best guys will play. Through competition we will figure it out.”
Cougars on the air
at No. 16 BYU (4-2)
Saturday, 1:30 pm MDT
LaVell Edwards Stadium
Radio: KSL NewsRadio 102.7 FM/1160 AM