SALT LAKE CITY — The fact that Utah coach Kyle Whittingham decided to implement a new policy Monday of not reporting injuries, naturally made a lot of folks, especially in the media, suspicious that there must be some injuries to cover up.
Turns out there was a reason for the change of policy.
Two of Utah’s top players who were rumored to be hurt didn’t start Saturday night and sat out.
Utah’s running back John White, who proclaimed himself “100 percent” to the media on Wednesday, didn’t play and three different Ute running backs played in the first quarter. White, who gained more than 1,500 yards for the Utes last year, including 174 against BYU, apparently hurt his ankle against Utah State.
Freshman Jarrell Oliver got the start and ran for four yards on the first play from scrimmage. Later in the quarter, JC transfer Kelvin York and Lucky Radley both got carries as did Jake Murphy on a fourth-down play on a fake punt.
Also Ute starting free safety Eric Rowe didn’t play after suffering a hamstring injury in the Utah State game. Rowe was replaced by sophomore Tyron Morris-Edwards in the secondary.
BYU receiver Ross Apo, who missed last week’s game with a hamstring injury, was back in action and Riley Nelson, whose back pain kept him from playing more against Weber State last week, also started.
LINEUP CHANGES: The Utes made several changes on their offensive line Saturday night. Senior Sam Brenner moved over from right guard and started at left tackle where Miles Mason had started the first two games. Vycent Jones replaced Brenner at guard. Freshman Jeremiah Poutasi started at left tackle, replacing Percy Taumoelau. Also senior Boo Anderson made his season debut as starting linebacker.
LATEST START: Not only was Saturday’s game the earliest game ever played in the long series, it was also the latest.
The Sept. 15 date is the earliest fall date the game has ever been played in the series that dates back to 1922 or 1896, according to University of Utah records.
But Saturday’s 8 p.m. starting time (it actually started at 8:15) was also the latest in the long series, assuming there were no late-night games before 1987 when night games were a rarity, especially late in the season.
Over the past 25 years, the Utes and Cougars have played at a variety of times due to television demands, from 10:30 a.m. in 1996 to last year’s 7:15 p.m. start.
The most popular starting time over the past quarter century has been 12 p.m. with seven such starts, followed by 1 p.m. with four. The other starting times have been 11:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m., 3 p.m., 4 p.m. and 5 p.m.
STREAK CONTINUES: BYU wide receiver Cody Hoffman extended his reception streak of 22 games. Going into Saturday's game, he was tied for the 19th longest in the nation. Hoffman has caught a pass in 28 of 29 career games.
EXTRA POINTS: For the second straight year, both teams wore their home uniforms with Utah coming out in all red and BYU wearing blue jerseys and white pants . . . The temperature at kickoff was 80 degrees with a slight wind from the south . . . Attendance was 45,653, the sixth largest crowd in stadium history . . . BYU offensive lineman Houston Reynolds suffered a right ankle injury early in the second quarter. He did not return to the game and was replaced by Brock Stringham . . . Utah, which has always played a 4-3 defense, came out in a 3-4 defense with Star Lotulelei in the middle and the Kruger brothers, Joe and Dave, on each side of the line . . . NFL scouts from the Baltimore Ravens, Jacksonville Jaguars, New York Jets and Oakland Raiders attended the game, as did Utah Blaze head coach Ron James . . . KSL radio analyst Marc Lyons was the Cougars' quarterback the last time they were Utah's homecoming opponent. It was 1968 and the Utes prevailed 30-21 . . . BYU won the coin toss and deferred to the second half.