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Friday, September 07, 2007

BYU football: 'Tongan Trio' all business on field

PROVO - Notre Dame had "The Four Horsemen," and several teams have displayed a "Thunder and Lightning."
But what about BYU's powerful backfield trio of Manase Tonga, Fui Vakapuna and Harvey Unga?
"Maybe the Three Stooges," Tonga suggested. "What people see from the outside in is a bunch of serious guys. But if you really know us, we are just a bunch of goofballs who like to have fun. But we get the job done on the field, and we don't want anybody to underestimate us."
The BYU sports information department has dubbed Tonga, Vakapuna and Unga "The Tongan Trio," and they will be in the lineup together for the first time this season on Saturday when BYU (1-0) faces No. 13 UCLA (1-0) at the Rose Bowl.
Tonga missed BYU's season opener against Arizona while serving a one-game suspension, and the junior is eager to get his first carry.
"I am so excited to play," he said. "I'm not going to try to do anything special. I'll just keep doing what I have been doing as far as making the right blocks, running hard and making catches - just helping the offense move the chains."
As Tonga watched from the sideline, Unga made his mentor proud by gaining 194 all-purpose yards and scoring two touchdowns. Although his personal statistics may take a dip with Tonga's return, Unga believes it will enhance BYU's offense.
"He is a role model kind of player, and having him back just opens up all the abilities in our backfield," Unga said. "We thrive off each other. If one of us does something good, the other two feed of it and get pumped. It makes us want to go out there and do something else for each other."
Tonga, Vakapuna and Unga all weigh more than 230 pounds and deliver a pounding to defenders in their path. When asked how teams will stop the versatile trio, Tonga could only smile and shake his head.
"Oh man I don't know, but they are going to be scared," he said. "As long as we stay healthy and fresh, we are going to be tough to defend."
While having three similar all-purpose backs splitting carries could spawn jealousy, Tonga says it's not a problem at BYU.
"We are all family, so we are used to sharing," he said. "And when you put it into perspective, we are going for the bigger outcome, which is a team victory. We always keep that in mind."

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