PROVO, Utah (ABC4 Sports) – With the BYU game against LSU being moved to New Orleans because of the flooding in Houston caused by Hurricane Harvey, the Cougars first thoughts, of course, are with the victims of the storm.
“The main concern for our team are the people of Houston,” BYU head coach Kalani Sitake said. “All you have to do is watch the news and see what’s happening there, so our concern is hopefully everyone is safe, and taken care of down there. People come first.”
Freshman tight end Matt Bushman has some experience dealing with hurricanes. He’s from New Orleans, and he was there for Hurricane Katrina. His family moved to Arizona after being displaced from that natural disaster.
“It’s tough,” Bushman said. “I feel for the families in Houston, it’s hard but I know they are strong people. I know they’ll bounce back hopefully, and our thoughts and prayers and concerns go out to them.”
“First and foremost our thoughts are with the Houston people,” said BYU defensive back Tanner Jacobson. “Then getting ready for the offense against LSU and then it’s kind of on the back of my mind where we play.”
Jacobson is one of the Cougars players from Texas, and the’s been in contact with friends and family there.
“It’s sad to see,” Jacobson said. “I was just looking at a couple of videos that my friend posted that’s from Houston and you know, it’s pouring, it’s flooding. “I’m sure it’s hard for people to get food so our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Houston right now. You know, hoping they’re staying Texas tough and all that.”
“I served my mission in South Texas so I’ve been in contact with a few people,” said wide receiver Talon Shumway. “There’s definitely some concern there. It’s been pretty devastating to some people, so we’re concerned about that. We’re not in charge of the venue or what’s going to happen with the game. That’s all going to work itself out, so we’re really hoping that things are turning around for South Texas and the people down there.
The University of Utah plays its season opener Thursday against North Dakota, and there are five players from the Houston area on the roster. Corrian Ballard, Kyle Fulks, Raelon Singleton, Troy McCormick and Nygel King.
“”We’ve got four or five guys from the Houston area,” said head coach Kyle Whittingham. “Obviously our thoughts and prayers are with their families. I saw a picture of [former quarterback] Brian Johnson’s house the other day and its bad. “We’re hoping for the best, and that’s certainly on our minds first and foremost and our players and their families.”
But they still have a game to worry about, and every one is anxious to get the season going.
“We lost obviously a lot of talent off last year’s team,” said Whittingham. “But we’ve got some new guys stepping up and its their opportunity to show what they can do, and we’re excited to watch them play.”
“We were joking about this last Saturday, we’re ready to get to it,” said offensive lineman Jackson Barton. “Watching all the other college teams play Saturday makes us chomping at the bit even more.”
“Man, we’re so excited to take on another team right now,” added defensive back Casey Huges. “We’re just ready to hit somebody now.”
Utah and North Dakota will hit each other Thursday at 5:30 p.m at Rice-Eccles Stadium.