Provo • BYU will be without its only punt returner and second-leading receiver on Saturday when it takes on No. 21 Wisconsin at Camp Randall Stadium, but coach Bronco Mendenhall said Monday he won't curtail team activities away from the football field like the one last week that left senior JD Falslev with a broken hand.
Falslev was on the FlowRider wave simulator at the indoor Provo Beach Resort when he suffered the injury last Wednesday during BYU's bye week. He underwent surgery the next day and is expected to be out 3-4 weeks.
"I thought it was a great, great activity," said Mendenhall, who is an avid surfer. "It could have happened dropping his books and falling down in the snow or something. I wouldn't change anything. I feel bad that it happened, but after riding maybe 30 waves or something, sometimes that happens when you get on the board."
Mendenhall said coaches will determine "fairly early" this week who will return punts in Falslev's absence. The candidates are senior receivers Skyler Ridley and Cody Hoffman, senior defensive back Mike Hague and freshman cornerback Dallin Leavitt.
Ridley, who seems to be the frontrunner for the job, said he and Hoffman have received the most reps in practice since Falslev went down.
"They haven't come out and said, 'You are the guy,'" he said. "… I have been back there catching them the whole season, but JD has kind of solidified that spot for the past few years. … In high school, I caught kickoffs and punts. But it is a little different now. I am [going to be] excited if they call my number."
Falslev's position as the starting inside receiver will also be difficult to fill. Sophomores Eric Thornton and Terenn Houk are listed as the possible starters at slotback on the new depth chart released Monday. Thornton is coming off an undisclosed injury and has caught one pass for 6 yards. Houk has yet to catch a pass this season.
Ridley said he might be asked to play there as well, sliding over from his outside receiver spot. Or, the Cougars could use a little-used veteran such as Marcus Mathews or Kurt Henderson.
Defensively, the Cougars will be without senior inside linebacker Austen Jorgensen, who was told before the 37-20 win over Boise State on Oct. 25 that it would be his last game due to chronic knee issues. He will have surgery this week.
Mendenhall said sophomore Teu Kautai will be moved into the rotation at inside linebacker, spelling probable starters Uani Unga and Tyler Beck and key reserve Manoa Pikula.
"Manoa has really played well, so we have three quality players at inside linebacker and now at outside linebacker with Kyle [Van Noy], Spencer [Hadley] and Alani [Fua] we have six really good players for four spots," Mendenhall said.
Strong safety Daniel Sorensen suffered a concussion in the first half against Boise State, but "is good, practiced full-speed [Monday], no problems," Mendenhall said.
Junior center Terrance Alletto is back practicing after a neck injury sidelined him the past three games and should also be available to play, Mendenhall said, although the opening-day starter is not listed on the depth chart.
BYU at Wisconsin
P Saturday, 1:30 p.m. MST, TV • ESPN