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Saturday, August 18, 2007

Unga fitting into Cougar offense

He's starting to get the hang of blocking schemes, hot reads

By Dick Harmon
Deseret Morning News
Published: August 18, 2007
PROVO — Harvey Unga and Max Hall are creating a bond, a touchdown bond.

It was evident last Saturday in BYU's first major scrimmage when the duo hooked up for a 43-yard scoring play. The link repeated itself during Thursday's open practice when Hall hit Unga for a pair of touchdown passes during a featured drill segment.

Hall found Unga an easy target, and the big freshman showed why he is a load to bring down as he took Hall's offering and made short work of two TD plays to the delight of some 1,150 fans.

Unga said he is starting to fit in to BYU's offensive sets and understanding hot reads and blocking schemes better than when camp started.

And the hip he injured a year ago that forced him to sit out the 2006 season? "It's feeling fine. But to be honest, I do think about it, and it's on my mind. Every day I come out there I have to stretch it a certain way to make it pop, to break up some of the scar tissue. Until I do, it does hurt a bit."

Scoring touchdowns, however, can make the former Timpview High star forget discomfort.

"It felt great, it's been a great summer. Obviously it's hard with the heat, running all around, all the hitting and trying to cram everything in, but at the same time it's very rewarding to come out and make some plays, and the offense loves you, and the coaches love you."

Unga said he isn't looking at what opportunities he gets because Manase Tonga and Fui Vakapuna might miss some reps. Fui is being brought along slowly following surgery last December, and Tonga won't be in the Arizona game due to a suspension.

"I'm always going to be working hard," said Unga. "If Manase is in, I'm still going to work my butt off just because if anything happens, I'm going to be ready. If you think the other way, that I'm just going to sit out and chill while Manase and Fui get the reps, it's never going to work out for you.

"I have to have the mentality that I need to go out and do the best I can. That way, when the time does come, I'll show up and do what I need to do."

Unga said learning all the line calls is tricky but that veteran center Sete Aulai does a great job of calling out the blocking calls.

"Coach (Bronco) Mendenhall is a genius at throwing defenses left and right at them that we haven't gone over in team meetings and you say, 'Holy cow, where did this come from?' but I trust my line and Sete."

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