Mitch Mathews a big loss for offense

The loss of sophomore wide receiver Mitch Mathews is a big blow to the Cougar offense, not because he was a big target at 6 feet 6 inches, but because he was finding his groove and gaining valuable experience in a passing game that was beginning to become more defined. The injury was a devastating blow on so many levels.

This was supposed to be the year Mitch Mathews stepped out onto the grassy stage to become part of a new prolific BYU passing game. While that somewhat came true, Mitch's full potential will have to wait a little longer to be reached after he suffered a season-ending shoulder injury during the Wisconsin game.

"Obviously it's a devastating injury for us and for him," said wide receiver coach Guy Holliday.

Being the type of older brother that he is, junior Marcus Mathews wishes he could trade places with Mitch.

"I wish it was rather me than Mitch," said Marcus. "That's how it always is. If somebody has to get hurt in our family, I hope it's me because I'm tougher than Mitch. Mitch is tough, but I'm tougher than Mitch by far. By far."

Marcus first heard the bad news about his brother's season being over from his mother Lisa.

"[Monday] during practice my mom was just talking on the phone – she was there because it was an open practice – and I look over and she had tears in her eyes," said Marcus. "I'm just like, 'What the heck is this?' So, I walk over and I say, 'What's the matter?' She's like, 'Mitch's shoulder is pretty bad. It's worse than we thought and he's going to have to have surgery and he's going to be done.' Obviously I'm just bummed as can be because he's my little brother. He's playing well. He's really starting to find his groove, and he's the last person I want to see hurt on the team because he's my best friend and my brother."

To help ease his sorrow, Mitch Mathews wanted to spend some time with Marcus and his four-month-old son Christian Mitchell Mathews.

"He came over right away right when he found out," recalled Marcus. "He was pretty bummed out as anybody would be, and before I was going to practice he came up to my house because one thing that he said would make him feel better was to hold my little baby. He's four months old now, but [Mitch] wanted to go up and hold him, so that's one thing that would make him feel better. He came over to my house and me, him and my little baby just hung out and talked."

Spending time with his family helped put things into perspective for Mitch, and that brought him comfort and perspective.

"Oh yeah, for sure, for him too because Christian is such a good baby," said Marcus. "He's such an amazing little thing and such a blessing for mine and his life. [Mitch] just wanted to go up there and be with him, and it just makes you feel good when you're with family. We're really a close family. Like, me, my wife, my baby and Mitch are all really close, and he probably sleeps over at my house at least four nights a week and I'm married, so that's how close we are."

This week Mitch will undergo surgery to repair the damage to his shoulder. Marcus believes his younger brother is determined to get through this as soon as possible so his return to the field will be a quick one.

"Mitch is a tough kid," said Marcus. "He's going to get the surgery on Thursday, fix up the broken bone in his shoulder on his scapula on his shoulder blade, get those labrum things fixed, and he's going to be good to go as soon as possible. He's a tough kid and he's determined."

Mitch first blew up on the field during the Utah State game, when he hauled in five receptions for 112 yards and three touchdowns. With Mitch out for the rest of the season, someone else will have to step up and fill the large void.

"Well, obviously Ross [Apo] will get more time and we'll move up Kurt Henderson and we'll play Colby Pearson," said Coach Holliday. "We'll find somebody to fill that void. I'm confident in that and I'm excited to see who it is."

"I would want to be out there to fill that hole because Mitch is such a good player," said Marcus. "I don't want to see a drop-off in production, and I don't want to see, 'Oh man, Mitch is gone on the outside,' and see our outside not as strong. I want to go out there and fill it just like Mitch would. You know, make him proud. I may be Mitch's older brother but I definitely look up to him as much as he would probably look up at me."

Marcus had been playing outside receiver for a while now, but was recently moved back inside.

"Well, our numbers are kind of down this week at the receivers' spot as well as the tight end spot with the injuries to Kane [Friel], Brett [Thompson] and Devin [Mahina]," said Marcus. "As of [Tuesday] they put me back inside, so I don't know how long that's going to last. As of right now me and Terenn [Houk] are the flex-Y's, and we're just going to make due with the guys we have on the outside with Cody [Hoffman], Ross, Skyler [Ridley], Colby and Travis [Frey]. We call Travis 'Woody' because he looks like Woody from Toy Story."

"What it does for the position is one man's junkyard is another man's goldmine, so somebody has the opportunity to step up," said Coach Holliday. "I'm confident somebody will and we'll see."

Injuries are a part of the game, and the Mathews boys understand that. BYU fans just might see the number 10 written in black on Marcus's arm this Saturday to honor his younger brother.

"I mean, it's always in the back of your mind that you want to play good for those you love," said Marcus. "When any good teammate and friend gets hurt, you want to play for them. That's why guys [write their names or numbers] on their arm, so you can take them out there with you."

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