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Sunday, August 02, 2009

Idaho's Iupati proves size does matter

Mike Iupati stands 6-foot-6 and tips the scales at 330 pounds. That works out well considering one of the Idaho lineman's favorite hobbies is manhandling defensive tackles.

"I tend to use my weight a lot and my strength," said Iupati, a senior guard for the Vandals. "As big as I am, the gaps are smaller. The defensive line doesn't easily get around me. Size does matter, especially when you're in the trenches."

Iupati laughed at the rotating hordes of defensive linemen who confront him each game, but acknowledged that some of the smaller ones can get to him by game's end.

"I'd rather go against the big guys, but those fast guys �- once I get 'em, I get 'em," Iupati said. "Sometimes when you're tired in a game, you step long and they do a little quick move on you."

The big man is in terrific shape (and has massive shoulders and hands), but offensive linemen rarely get a break from the action.

"You're exhausted," Iupati said. "With a big drive, you're so tired. The only rest you get is in the huddle. That determines a good offensive line: if you're trained and healthy you can focus on each play."

Iupati claimed the Vandals would be able to run the ball better this year despite losing three starters from last season's offensive front.

"I believe we are going to be one of the good offensive lines in the WAC," Iupati said. "They're big boys. I think we're going to run the ball more because we are so big."

Iupati was born in American Samoa, but played high school ball in Anaheim, Calif. He said when he came to Moscow he couldn't initially wrap his head around the Boise State-Idaho rivalry, couldn't figure out "Hate Week."

"They're a good team, a very good team," Iupati said. "They've been successful in all those years. That week we play Boise State, anger comes out for some reason. It's fun. That's how football is. You have those rivalry games when you just want to go out there and destroy the other team, just beat them."

At first, Iupati said he didn't partake, but the rivalry has grown on him.

"That hatred has kind of grown into me when we play that week," Iupati said. "It's hype. It helps us play. We don't really hate 'em, hate 'em, it's just when that week comes it's going to be crazy."

This season, that week comes in mid-November as the Vandals visit the Broncos Nov. 14.

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