WKU star linebacker Evans likely out for Jax State game with injury

Published 3:52 pm Thursday, October 12, 2023

By Jeff Nations, Bowling Green Daily News

WKU head coach Tyson Helton said Evans will likely not play after suffering an injury in last week’s 35-28 road victory against Louisiana Tech.

“I don’t see JaQues playing in this game,” Helton said. “We’ve got to see how he comes back and what that timeline looks like.”

Losing Evans for any length of time is a blow for the Hilltopper defense. The junior linebacker from Dublin, Ga., entered the season as the Conference USA Preseason Defensive Player of the Year.

Last season, Evans started all 14 games for the Tops and was the team’s leading tackler with 106 stops, including 14 tackles for loss and nine sacks. Evans also broke up four passes, had eight quarterback hurries and recovered a pair of fumbles – he returned one of those fumble recoveries for a touchdown.

A first-team All-CUSA selection at linebacker last season, Evans ranks second on the team in tackles this season with 30, has recovered two fumbles – including another he ran back for a touchdown in the opener against South Florida – one forced fumble, a sack and a pass breakup.

Evans went down with the injury in the first half against Louisiana Tech and did not return. Helton said Evans has a lower leg injury and will continue to be evaluated by the program’s training and medical staff.

The loss of Evans is the latest in a string of significant injuries for WKU, which has at times this season been without top wide receiver Malachi Corley – who is back to full strength and coming off one of his most productive games after tallying eight catches for 207 yards and three touchdowns against Louisiana Tech. WKU has also been without top wideouts Dalvin Smith, Michael Mathison and Blue Smith at various points this season – Dalvin Smith has been back in action the last two weeks, while Blue Smith has been out since the Ohio State game and Mathison hasn’t played all season after suffering an injury in fall camp.

The defense has also had a number of starters miss time this season.

“Hats off to coach (Tyson) Summers, our defensive coordinator, he’s done a fantastic job of next-man-up mentality,” Helton said. “The defense that you see out there playing currently is not the defense that we started with. And time after time, they have stepped up.”When men’s number have been called, they have stepped up to the plate and done well. We’ll have to continue to do that.”

WKU (4-2 overall, 2-0 CUSA) has been on an off week and will travel to Jacksonville, Ala., to face the Gamecocks on Tuesday. Game time is 6:30 p.m. with the matchup televised on ESPNU.