Oregon tight end Colt Lyerla did not play Saturday, and wasn't even at the stadium. Lyerla says he was sick during the week, which caused him to miss practice on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. He says he was told to stay home and rest. After the Ducks' blowout win over Tennessee, though, head coach Mark Helfrich opted not to provide any details about Lyerla's absence.
Instead, Helfrich said Lyerla wasn't at the game because of "circumstances," as The Oregonian's Jason Quick reports:
Helfrich told the media after the game that Lyerla was not at Autzen Stadium because of "circumstances." When asked if Lyerla was healthy, Helfrich again said "circumstances." When asked to be more specific, Helfrich smiled and continued the cat-and-mouse game he likes to play with the media.
"Circumstances is extremely specific,'' Helfrich said with a smile. "That's one word.''
The vague handling of those questions led to speculation on the part of media members and fans, and given Lyerla's history -- he was held out nine practices last summer for "personal issues" -- that speculation didn't always give the benefit of the doubt to the tight end. Some suggested that Lyerla wasn't actually ill.
The notion that Lyerla might not have been sick at all was the sort of reaction to Helfrich's comments that left Lyerla unhappy with the way his head coach handled the situation:
"I'm really upset with the way coach Helfrich said that after the game,'' Lyerla said Sunday. "Really disappointed. I feel hurt about this. I watched a little bit of what he said, then started reading all of it, and ... it was unfair.''
Lyerla added that he felt like he'd been thrown under the bus, but said he'd be at practice Tuesday and ready to go.
Helfrich is scheduled to meet with reporters Sunday night at 8 p.m. ET, and perhaps some clarification will come then.