Utah defensive end Koa Misi, who was carted off the practice field Wednesday night with what was described as back spasms, is "out until further notice with a back injury."

Head coach Kyle Whittingham's terse announcement came Thursday afternoon after Misi was evaluated by team doctors earlier in the day. Citing federal regulations (HIPAA), the released statement said that Whittingham "will not divulge the specifics of injuries to Utah football players."

Misi, a senior who made the Mountain West's preseason all-conference team, started all 13 games last season and made 68 tackles, including 8.5 for loss with three sacks. The 6-foot-3, 263-pounder broke up six passes and led the Utes with three forced fumbles.

"He's one of the best defenders in the Mountain West Conference and we hope for the best obviously," Whittingham said after Utah's morning practice at the baseball field.

"Right now we're still hoping for the best for Koa," he added.

Whittingham noted that the Utes usually travel with five defensive ends. Derrick Shelby and Nai Fotu, who were slated to be in a playing rotation with Misi, will now man the starting spots. Christian Cox and Junior Tui'one are the top reserves.

"Those guys have got to pick up the slack," said Whittingham, who brought up the possibility of moving tackles Lei Talamaivao or Dave Kruger outside if Misi's injury lingers.

e-mail: dirk@desnews.com