Unga has scored eight touchdowns on the ground this season. He is also the Cougars' third-leading receiver, catching 38 passes for 298 yards and four TDs. Unga has a knack for making big plays, such as his season-high 40-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter against Colorado State.
Prior to the season, one area of concern for the offense was replacing Manase Tonga, who was suspended for the year. Senior Fui Vakapuna has more than filled that void, embracing the role as Unga's lead blocker. He has also done a good job protecting Max Hall from blitzes. Vakapuna has rushed 49 times for 225 yards, averaging 4.6 yards per carry and he's scored two of his three touchdowns in the last two games. He's also caught nine passes for 64 yards and a TD.
Other backs in the mix include senior Wayne Latu, who has rushed for 51 yards on 10 carries, and freshmen J.J. DiLuigi (13 carries for 48 yards) and Bryan Kariya (eight carries 35 yards). Both Latu and DiLuigi have both fumbled the ball away twice this season.
BYU'S LINEBACKERS: This is a key area in the Cougars' 3-4 defensive scheme. Senior outside 'backer David Nixon headlines this group with 77 tackles, a team-high 10.5 tackles-for-loss, one sack, three interceptions, four pass breakups, five quarterback hurries, one fumble recovery and two forced fumbles. Nixon turned in perhaps the best overall performance of his career in the victory over San Diego State a couple of weeks ago with a career-high 14 tackles and an interception. BYU's defense counts on him not only for his play, but also his leadership.
Inside linebacker Matt Bauman leads the Cougars in tackles with 89.
He has added 8.5 tackles-for-loss, two sacks and a fumble recovery.
The other outside linebacker, Shawn Doman, underwent an appendectomy last week but is expected to play this week. Doman has 51 tackles this season. His replacement against Air Force, backup Matt Ah You, played well in Doman's absence. At the other outside spot is Coleby Clawson, a transfer from Snow College. Clawson has 46 tackles, 10 tackles-for-loss and four sacks. Key backups include freshmen Daniel Sorensen, who was sidelined last week with an ankle injury but is expected to be available this week, and Iona Pritchard.
BYU's linebackers aren't known for their speed and have had trouble with opposing players who are quick enough to get on the edge for big plays, as what happened in the loss to TCU and last week's win over Air Force, which executed reverses for huge gains.
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