PROVO — The BYU football program is embarking on its first-ever game in the Carolinas.
The Cougars and East Carolina meet at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium in Greenville, North Carolina on Saturday night.
BYU is leaving Thursday for North Carolina to get acclimated to the time change and the climate.
“Whenever we go two time zones away, we try to go a couple of days early. We’ll leave on Thursday and get ready for the game,” said BYU football coach Kalani Sitake. “It’s a Saturday night game, which will be fun. It won’t be as hot. We’ll get to see our fans in that area.
"We’re very appreciative to have great fans at the Mississippi State game. It’s nice to see our fans at different places around the country. I’m looking forward to that and having our guys regroup. Going out a day early might be good for us.”
BYU is the farthest-West FBS opponent to play at East Carolina, and the Cougars are only the second team from the Mountain time zone to play in Greenville. The other is UTEP.
“I’m looking forward to going out East,” said quarterback Tanner Mangum. “It will be cool to play in that environment.”
INJURY UPDATE: This season, BYU has had 34 players sidelined with an injury.
Of those 34 players, 22 have been on the two-deep depth chart and 12 have been projected starters, including tight end Moroni Laulu-Pututau, wide receiver Talon Shumway and running back Trey Dye.
“It’s tough. Injuries aren’t fun, especially when they are key guys, key components of our offense,” Mangum said. “We miss them. They are big playmakers for us. That’s something that we’ve got to battle through.”
Offensive coordinator Ty Detmer said running back KJ Hall, who injured his arm earlier this season, could be available Saturday.
“Hopefully, we get back to full strength at some point and keep a consistent group on the field,” Detmer said.
BRUTAL SCHEDULE: BYU's schedule is the No. 16th-toughest in the nation according to USA Today’s Jeff Sagarin. Of the other 15 teams with tougher-rated schedules, only three (Cal, USC and Michigan State) have winning records.