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Utah State football: Sini Tauauve'a ready to step in on O-line

Published October 2, 2013 8:58 am

USU notes • Senior guard to get first start in wake of Kyle Whimpey's injury.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Logan • A lot of players at Utah State had fond first impressions of Kyle Whimpey, but Sini Tauauve'a was not one of them.

One of the first times they met, Tauauve'a remembered, they nearly came to blows. But it wasn't long before that contentious divide washed away: When they next huddled up, Whimpey simply shrugged it off, and Tauauve'a did, too.

"We got to the line and just laughed about it," he said. "[Kyle and Kevin Whimpey] are the funny guys on the team. They're always happy, and they'll help you get back up."

This week, it's up to Tauauve'a to keep Chuckie Keeton standing up.

The senior guard is expected to make his first start for the Aggies after Kyle Whimpey's season-ending knee injury. He'll slide in between Kevin Whimpey and Tyler Larsen on the left side as Jamie Markosian flips to the right side.

Many eyes will be on Tauauve'a, who went to Hunter High and Snow College before coming to Logan. He's slated to line up against Bronson Kaufusi and Eathyn Manumaleuna, two of BYU's toughest linemen.

Of course, Tauauve'a knows a thing or two about entering a tough situation. He did just that last week against San Jose State, stepping in and playing for most of the second half while trying to spark a line that had just seen one of their own go down.

"They were bummed out and it affected them, but they also wanted to win," offensive line coach Mark Weber said. "They took Sini right in, and they knew he'd do a good job. And we rolled."

Roll the Aggies did — to the tune of 253 rushing yards against the Spartans. Tauauve'a, for one, would like an encore.

"It took a little while, but I got used to it and just tried to play nasty," he said. "I just got to stay calm mostly. I just have to trust my technique, and just do it."

Aggies hoping for another pick parade

It was relief for Maurice Alexander to finally wrap his hands around a stray pass from David Fales last week.

It didn't just represent Utah State's first pick of the year, and it wasn't just a sign that the Aggies could finally be ball hawks five games into the season. It was personal: his first college interception, an indication that he's growing into his own as a safety.

"I knew eventually I would get one," the senior said. "It felt amazing man. I've never had one."

Alexander has had his ups and downs in the middle, but he, and the Utah State secondary, are feeling pretty sky-high after getting three interceptions last week. After finally breaking through to generate turnovers, the Aggies hope another good game is on its way against BYU's Taysom Hill, who has thrown four picks against one touchdown this year.

"We've just got to make big plays," Alexander said. "It will come down to third downs, and when it does, we've got to be ready."

kgoon@sltrib.com

Twitter: @kylegoon

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