Without Travis, there is definitely a difference. ;But guys stepped up, like Kesni Tausinga, Logan Taele. We can move guys in the middle. We definitely missed Travis, but guys stepped in there. —BYU defensive lineman Bronson Kaufusi
LINCOLN, Neb. — While losing quarterback Taysom Hill for the season with an injury was a crushing blow to BYU, the Cougars are also dealing with an injury to a key defensive player — junior nose tackle Travis Tuiloma.
Coach Bronco Mendenhall said Tuiloma, who suffered a knee injury sometime in the second quarter during BYU’s 33-28 victory over Nebraska, is expected to be sidelined for four to six weeks.
“Travis I consider our best defensive player, our most experienced defensive player,” Mendenhall said.
“Without Travis, there is definitely a difference," said defensive lineman Bronson Kaufusi. "But guys stepped up, like Kesni Tausinga, Logan Taele. We can move guys in the middle. We definitely missed Travis, but guys stepped in there.”
Meanwhile, freshman running back Francis Bernard broke his finger in practice earlier in the week. He underwent surgery and he could be back for the UCLA game on Sept. 19.
SUSPENSIONS: After a lot of speculation about looming suspensions, four players were held out of Saturday’s game — defensive lineman Tomasi Laulile, safety Kai Nacua and wide receiver Trey Dye. Mendenhall had previously announced that linebacker Sione Takitaki was going to be suspended.
EMPATHY PAINS: Mendenhall feels for Nebraska’s Mike Riley, who made his debut as the Cornhuskers’ coach Saturday, and lost on a last-second touchdown.
“My heart goes out to Mike Riley. He’s a good friend of mine and a really good person,” Mendenhall said. “I’ve been on the other side. Nebraska played really hard right to the end, as did we.”
PUNTING DEBUT: BYU rugby star Jonny Linehan played in his first football game and acquitted himself well. Linehan had five punts for 255 yards, with two over 50 yards and two downed inside the 20-yard line. He uncorked a 64-yarder in the first half into the wind.
EXTRA POINTS: The official temperature at kickoff was 93 degrees, tying the hottest kickoff at Memorial Stadium since 1985. Attendance was 89,959, the fourth largest crowd that BYU has played in front of. BYU totaled 511 yards of total offense, the third-most by a Mendenhall-coached team in a season-opener. Last season, BYU rolled up 513 yards against UConn and it had 563 against Northern Iowa in 2008. Saturday marked Nebraska’s 342nd consecutive sellout, dating back to 1962.