When the 21st Cougars host the 9th Baylor on Saturday night, BYU will be without the team’s two best wide receivers, sources told ESPN.
Junior Puka Naqua and Senior Gunner Romney are expected to miss. BYU coach Kalani Shitake said earlier in the week that those would be game time decisions, with data from ESPN Stats & Info showing that Romney and Naqua were the only players in BYU’s comeback receiving yards to get him out of his yards. accounted for 60%.
Considered a dynamic NFL prospect, Naqua sprained his right ankle and wore a boot during BYU’s big win in South Florida last week. Romney, who is also on the NFL’s radar, missed that game with an undisclosed injury that will keep him from playing Saturday.
The two were BYU’s primary returning receivers from last season and were projected as star quarterback Jaren Hall’s top targets in 2022. He scored two touchdowns, including a 75-yard run, on the first play of the game before Naqua was injured against USF. Last season, Naqua finished with 805 receiving his yards and tied for second on the team with six touchdowns.
In his fifth season with BYU, Romney has 1,900 career receiving yards and 10 total touchdowns. Former BYU quarterback Zach Wilson’s breakout in 2020 In his season, Romney tallied his 767 yards and his 6 touchdowns. In his career, he averaged 16.2 yards per catch.
The Cougars’ offensive line is the strength of the team, so their absence will force BYU to lean into the run game. That unit struggled hard against the Bears in his 38-24 loss at Waco last year, gaining just 67 yards on 24 carries. Cal-transferred BYU tailback Christopher Brooks scored a touchdown for 135 yards and 13 carries in his first game against USF.
The Cougars rely on freshman Chase Roberts, redshirt freshman Cody Epps, and sophomore Keanu Hill to fill the receiver void. It could also highlight BYU’s beefy tight end tandem of junior Isaac Rex and junior Darrin Holker, considered prospects.