Information from the Salt Lake Tribune contributed to this report
The Arizona Wildcats had it rough with injuries, down to their fourth-string quarterback and using a wide receiver as their running back last week at UCLA.
Utah, which hosts the Wildcats on Saturday night, can relate to Arizona’s personnel woes. The Utes lost at Cal 28-23 without one of their best defensive players — junior tackle Lowell Lotulelei — and then proceeded to lose four more important players during the game.
Lotulelei missed his first game as a Ute with a shoulder injury suffered the previous week against USC. The 310-pound, 6-foot-2 tackle had started 30 straight games for the Utes. He was replaced in the lineup by senior tackle Pasoni Tasini.
On Utah’s first offensive series, all-Pac-12 senior center J.J. Dielman left the game, headed off the field, and returned later to the sideline in a boot on his right foot. He is out for the season.
Later in the first quarter, senior receiver Tim Patrick hobbled after a 22-yard reception. After trainers taped his right ankle, Patrick returned to the game, but then exited during Utah’s second-quarter touchdown drive and remained on the sideline. Sounds similar to Arizona running back Nick Wilson who tried to play against UCLA on a heavily wrapped left ankle but could not withstand the pain.
Patrick entered the game leading the team in receiving yards and touchdowns, and had four catches for 44 yards in the first half.
Fellow receiver Kyle Fulks also headed to the locker room in the second half.
Senior corner back Reggie Porter pulled up lame on a first half drive, and was replaced by freshmen Terrell Burgess and Julian Blackmon. During the second half, Porter sat on the bench without shoulder pads.
Utah has already suffered two season-ending injuries to defensive end Kylie Fitts and tight end Siale Fakailoatonga. Both are expected to apply for medical hardship waivers to play next season.
Another notable player not on the field at Cal was receiver Cory Butler-Byrd, a captain of the team. The program would not disclose the reason why Butler-Byrd did not make the trip. He spent the first two games of the season serving a suspension after an offseason incident in which he damaged a police car and building. In his two starts prior to Cal, Butler-Byrd had nine catches for 115 yards.
“He was not available for us physically,” Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said at his press conference today. “We hope he can play this week with about a dozen more guys.”
Whittingham’s policy is to not discuss injuries in detail with the media.
Loutelelei, Fitts and Dielman are all NFL draft prospects according to NFLDraftScout.com.
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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon.