LOGAN — Quarterback Beau Hoge wasn't the only big injury for the Cougars in their 40-24 loss to Utah State on Friday. Junior middle linebacker Butch Pau'u left the game soon after making a great play on an attempted reverse run by the Aggies early during the first quarter.
BYU doesn't disclose specific injury information, although it did confirm Pau'u would not return soon after the injury occurred.
Pau'u was seen throughout the rest of the game marching the sidelines while barking out encouragement to his teammates without a helmet on.
The Cougars scrambled to make do without one of their top defensive leaders, although the loss was a big one. Players who saw time in place of Pau'u included Adam Pulsipher, Johnny Tapusoa and even defensive end Sione Takitaki at times.
"I thought Kuj (Tapusoa) and Adam Pulsipher did a good job coming in and filling in for him," said BYU coach Kalani Sitake.
Although the backups played admirably, the loss of Pau'u was a big blow for a Cougar defense.
"That's my brother. That's a leader on the team. That's a stout run-stuffer, and he's very instinctive," BYU linebacker Fred Warner said about the loss of Pau'u. "So it hurts, but you have to have a guy who is the next guy up and make things happen with what we have."
RUNNING BACK ROULETTE: With Hoge sitting out most of the game, coaches leaned heavily on the Cougar running backs — primarily big freshman Ula Tolutau.
Tolutau finished with 21 rushes for 102 yards in the loss, but also accounted for two critical lost fumbles.
"He's such a big guy, and the extra effort stuff comes into play," Sitake said of his 6-foot, 255-pound bruiser. " You have to really take care of the football because guys are teeing off on you, whether it's from the back or from the front or the side. The intent is nice — that he wants to make more yards."
Senior Squally Canada also provided positive gains, rushing for 69 yards on just 12 carries. Canada was limited in the first half after coming out with an apparent injury, and did the majority of the work in the second.
Trey Dye also got into the mix, rushing the ball four times for 20 yards.
MIXING IT UP PREGAME: Although Friday's game didn't start until 6 p.m., the two teams got into a bit of scrum about an hour and a half before kickoff.
Utah State players were seen disrupting the BYU warmups, with several players needing to be separated by coaches and teammates.
BYU coach Kalani Sitake was asked about what occured during KSL's pregame show with Greg Wrubell, and downplayed it, stating, “I think it was all just a bit of friendly rival talk it wasn’t anything that I thought was out of the ordinary.”
If anything, Sitake hoped his players would use it as motivation.
”If they’re gonna keep poking at us, they might’ve awoken the beast," Sitake said. "And so I hope that happens tonight.”
The Cougars did show good fight throughout the loss, but were ultimately overcome by a bevy turnovers and injuries to key players, along with Utah State making opportunistic plays.
EDWARDS HONORED: BYU has been honoring its legendary coach throughout the season, wearing decals to commemorate his death late last year. Utah State followed suit for Friday's game, honoring LaVell Edwards as someone who played for the Aggies from 1949-51.