BYU football: Linebacker Uani 'Unga excited to face former team
Provo • Junior linebacker Uani 'Unga has been a member of the BYU football team for more than a year now, but he still says it will be "a little weird" on Saturday (1:30 p.m. MDT, ABC) when he faces his former Oregon State teammates at LaVell Edwards Stadium.
"But it feels good," 'Unga said. "I mean, I got love for all my boys back there ... It will be good to see them. I watch them every week, so it is nice seeing them do work and doing good."
That's good, because one of those OSU players is 'Unga's twin brother, Feti, the Beavers' starting middle linebacker. Feti 'Unga also wears No. 41, but has the name Taumoepeau on the back of his jersey to honor his mother's maiden name.
Uani 'Unga, a 6-foot-1, 233-pound junior, transferred from OSU to BYU after the 2010 season so his pregnant wife, Lachelle, could be closer to her family in Orem.
He plays behind all-everything LB Uona Kaveinga for the 4-2 Cougars, but has still been a valuable contributor in all six games, making eight solo tackles and four assisted stops, including two tackles for loss. His 9-yard sack of Utah State quarterback Chuckie Keeton last week enabled BYU to hold on for a 6-3 win.
So far, trash talk has been kept at a minimum between the twin brothers.
"He hasn't said anything," Uani 'Unga said. "I try to throw it out there and try to get an argument going, but he really hasn't said anything."
BYU's Unga said about 30 family members will be at Saturday's game, presumably cheering for a shutout. And he doesn't get the vibe that his former teammates and coaches hold any ill will against him for transferring away from Corvallis.
"I think there would be, but knowing coach [Mike] Riley, he is a different guy. I couldn't see him being mad at anybody. He's a really good guy. ... A lot of players go out there just because of him. They know he is a good guy and he knows how to treat players. When players play for him, it feels good to actually play for their coach, especially for him, just the type of guy he is."
BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall said safety Mike Hague, who has missed the past two games with a calf injury, "was running around pretty well [Monday], which I liked. I am not sure whether they are expecting him for this game or for Notre Dame, but from what I saw, it could be this week."
Trainer Jeff Hurst said Tuesday that Hague is still "possible" for Saturday.
Hurst clarified that running back Adam Hine is having issues with his patellar tendon and definitely will not play Saturday.
Lark, then Munns
Riley Nelson is expected to start against Oregon State, and Tuesday the quarterback said he is "feeling better today than I felt yesterday." His backup will be senior James Lark, Mendenhall said.
There has been talk that freshman receiver Alex Kuresa could be moved back to quarterback, but Mendenhall said it hasn't happened yet. If Lark goes out, junior Jason Munns would get the call, the coach said.
Mendenhall said junior Justin Sorensen will kick both field goals and PATs the rest of the season, allowing for senior Riley Stephenson to concentrate solely on punting. Tuesday, Mendenhall said Sorensen made all his kicks, which was a lot because he had three times more opportunities than he usually gets.
Oregon State at BYU
P Saturday, 1:30 p.m.
TV • Ch. 4