PROVO — For the second time in as many weeks, BYU lost a senior starter to a suspension.
Dressed in a hoodie, Cougar wide receiver Cody Hoffman stood on the sideline during BYU's 37-10 victory over Middle Tennessee Friday night at LaVell Edwards Stadium after being suspended for one game for violating team rules.
However, according to BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall, it’s not yet known whether Hoffman will be available Friday when the Cougars visit Utah State.
“It’s pretty unique circumstances,” Mendenhall said of the suspension, adding that he is working with the university on the situation. “I have other standards for him as well that he’ll have to meet or there could be another suspension if those standards aren’t met over the next four weeks. Those are private, but that’s where it is.”
Of course, BYU (2-2) is hoping to have Hoffman back. The Aggies (3-2) crushed San Jose State over the weekend, 40-12.
Meanwhile, linebacker Spencer Hadley is out for three more games as part of his five-game suspension for violating the honor code.
Mendenhall announced Hoffman’s suspension just hours prior to Friday's kickoff.
“Cody, that’s like my brother,” said wide receiver Ross Apo. “It (stinks) to have him out. He’s a big factor on the field. But like Coach said, ‘When people go down, we have people step up and fill in.’ We had guys step up (Friday).”
“You just have to rally around each other,” said senior wide receiver and punt returner JD Falslev. “We love Cody. We put our arms around Cody. We’ll make sure that he is OK, first and foremost. Then we have to pick up the slack. We weren’t worried because we have guys that can fill in and make plays.”
When asked about how the team has dealt with the two suspensions, senior linebacker Kyle Van Noy replied, “I don’t need to comment on that one. They’re good people. Leave it at that.”
Even without Hoffman, the BYU passing game improved Friday, as quarterback Taysom Hill completed 14 of 19 passes for 177 yards. Hill also rushed for 165 yards and two touchdowns.
“When I found out Cody was going to be out, I didn’t worry about it one bit,” Hill said, explaining that he knew other receivers would fill the void.
Apo had four catches for 38 yards; Mitch Mathews caught three passes for 47 yards; Brett Thompson had two receptions for 30 yards; and Skyler Ridley hauled in two passes for 25 yards.
“We have to continue to work hard to protect him so his eyes can remain downfield, and then when he delivers the ball on target, we catch it and secure it,” Mendenhall said of Hill. “We took a step forward.”
Apo said Hill was focused going into the Middle Tennessee game.
“After the loss to Utah, it got to a lot of people. He was hurt. A lot of people didn’t believe in him. The first day we went into practice, he was all-out. He was putting the ball where it needed to be. His focus from last week to this week was just unbelievable. He came out this week and he was just slinging the rock. Our linemen blocked and we caught the ball. If we can catch the ball and block for Taysom, the sky’s the limit for that guy.”
Meanwhile, BYU’s defense turned in another strong performance Friday, holding Middle Tennessee to 212 yards, an average of just 2.8 yards per play.
One key moment in the win came early in the second quarter, when, following a BYU turnover at the Blue Raider 2-yard line, Van Noy recorded a safety, cutting the Cougars' deficit to 10-9. That play kick-started a stretch of 30 unanswered points.
“I don’t know if it was necessarily a momentum-changer,” Van Noy said. “I think it was just time to make a play — pin your ears back and go get it. Coach Mendenhall put us in the right defense and we just made a play.”
Hill certainly appreciated the defense getting a score.
“Anytime you get points on the board, it’s a big boost,” he said. “Our defense deserves it. They’re a great defensive squad. It’s fun to see them perform and put points on the board. I love those guys. I love the way they play. They play hard. As a quarterback, it’s really comforting to have a defense like we do.”
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