Razorback Q & A: Tony Bua
Tony Bua is living proof that good things really do come in small packages. In his case it is a five-foot-eleven, two hundred and seven-pound package. Although he would certainly cost a fortune to wrap and send to a relative, he is considered extremely undersized for a linebacker in the SEC. Yet despite his less than imposing size, he dominated this season, piling up 109 tackles, 2 interceptions, a forced fumble, and a fumble recovery, all in only 10 games. He was named second team All-SEC and was one of the Hogs' most consistent performers on defense, including an incredible performance against Georgia when this Ragin' Cajun Firecracker blew up for 20 tackles. Tony plays with unparalleled emotion and has turned in numerous crowd-pleasing collisions. He is also a consummate cut-up who always seems to be having fun. He has some interesting stories to tell including one that explains his deep seeded hatred for boy band N'SYNC. Curious? So was I.
Nathan Striegler: You had another big game against LSU, including an interception and a fumble recovery. Since you are from Louisiana I know you must have been pretty fired up to be playing LSU. What was your mindset going into the game?
Tony Bua: I just wanted to go in and play the best that I could play and try to help out the team as much as possible. I was really looking forward to it because I had 75-100 people in the stands that I'm really close to. Growing up I always wanted to play in Death Valley. Unfortunately we didn't get to win, but it was kinda neat being able to live out a dream and have a good time.
NS: It must have really hurt to watch the Tigers carry off the golden boot at the end of the game. I've been wondering. Is that thing filled with chocolate or caramel?
TB: I thought it was just filled with Gold.
NS: That's a shame.
NS: A lot of times people label you as too small or even too slow for your position, yet you always seem to be right there around the ball making plays. How are you able to compensate for these supposed "handicaps?"
TB: One thing I've learned about football is that you don't have to be strong. You've got to have good leverage. If you're fast you can play football. That's one thing I've been able to do. A lot of people think I'm slow for some reason. I don't know why because I can run a 4.5 or better on any given day. I just try to rely on my speed as much as possible to make plays. Coach Vaughn always says the first second of a play is all we coach and after that it's just instincts. So I try to rely on my instincts and watch a lot of film to pick up on what the other team wants to do and where they want to attack. I try to be intense on every play because a lot of times I'm going against a guy who outweighs me by seventy pounds. I have to be really solid on my technique and just always run to the ball.
NS: Have you been surprised by how much success you've had early on in your career?
TB: Not really. To a point yes, but I don't really think I've had a lot of success. All I've done is make tackles and most of the times it's just been from getting off of a block and running to the ball. It's not like I've returned any interceptions for touchdowns or made huge plays. I've just made average plays. There have been times this year where we needed someone to step up and I had the play right in front of my face but I couldn't get the job done. I think that comes with experience and just learning to do my job. There is so much more for me to do at the University of Arkansas. I'm just thrilled to be able to say that. I think a lot of times people get stuck on what they have done but I've never been that way. I'm just looking forward to the rest of my time here.
NS: What is the most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to you on a football field?
TB: My sophomore year I was playing for Liberty Texas and I was the kicker. We were beating this team by like two or three touchdowns and I kicked the ball off and was jogging down the field real lazy and before I knew it I was sitting on the sidelines. As soon as I kicked the ball off they had sent one of their players right at me and he hit me right under the chin and I never really knew what had happened until the next day when we watched the film. I had a concussion.
NS: I know you have some interest in boxing. Do you have any interesting boxing or fighting stories?
TB: I have a lot of fighting stories but I really wouldn't want to go into that. I'll tell you a story you might want to hear though. It was my senior year in high school and I wanted my father to buy me a $120 pair of shoes and he wouldn't do it. I just kept arguing and finally we got out of the car and he told me he was taking me to get some shoes. I was just being a brat the whole time and we finally go into Sports Authority and I'm looking around there and just being a total jerk to my dad. Finally he said, "Fine! I tell you what, follow me." So I followed him to the back of the store and he told me to pick out a pair. They were boxing gloves. So I picked out a pair and he picked out a pair and we started moving benches around in the back because that was where they had all their weights and we just went at it right there, boxing. My mom was laughing the whole time. One of the managers went over to tell us we couldn't and I think that he pretty much figured out that he wasn't going to be able to stop us. We fought for two or three minutes and afterwards we were both so tired that we just quit and started laughing about it. I settled for a pair of $80 shoes because I couldn't knock him out.
NS: What is your favorite Rocky movie?
TB: That would have to be the one where he has to fight the big Russian. Rocky IV. It would have to be that one because he goes through so many things and the way he trains for that one it just motivates me. Either that one or Rocky II where Mickey is in the movie the whole time and he's just real hard.
NS: What is your motivation on the field?
TB: All my life growing up I just thought that if I could ever play division one football it would be the neatest thing I could ever do in my entire life. That was my dream. My mom used to pick me up from eighth grade football and all I could talk about was how one day I was gonna be in college playing football. For as long as I can remember this has been my dream and to be able to play football in the SEC is something that I can't explain. Sometimes out there on the field I just look around and think, "Wow. All these people are coming here to watch us play." I'm living my dream. I just feel like every play, every down, every minute, every second just give everything you have because you never know when it's gonna be your last time to play. I try to be as intense as possible every play and just enjoy every minute of it.
NS: If you could get a fifteen-yard start and blind-side anyone on the planet, who would it be?
TB: I think it would have to be Lance Bass from N'SYNC, because my senior year in high school I was dating a girl and she broke up with me to start dating him. Now they're just best of friends. She models in New York now and they take trips together when they can. He's the one who used to have blond hair and they never show him singing, just standing in the background.
NS: Several years ago there was an Adam Sandler movie about a Waterboy named Bobby Bouchea from Louisiana who was extremely undersized, but nonetheless dominant because of his intensity. Was that story based on you? If not do you draw inspiration from it?
TB: I don't really know the answer to that. But there are times on the field where I feel like I'm Bobby Bouchea. I get so mad and so frustrated like when we were playing Tennessee. It was a 330-pound lineman getting after me every play and finally I just got so sick and tired of it that I just started going after him. So I guess I do take after the Waterboy a little bit.
NS: What Bowl would you like to go to?
TB: I would love to go to the Cotton Bowl. I went there my redshirt year and I had a really good time. It's a bowl you can feel proud to go to and they give you a lot of nice prices. Not only that, the city of Dallas is so much fun and there are so many things to do there. It would be an exciting time for everybody on the team. That would be such an amazing accomplishment this year and something that I can always look back on and be proud of.
NS: What do you expect from your team, regardless of who or where you play?
TB: I think we're gonna have the attitude that we are going to win. That is the difference this year. Last year we wanted to win but this year we believe that we're gonna win. No matter what bowl we play in and who we play we're going to believe that we can win and go out and try to play our best football. There are a lot of guys on this team that hate losing. They refuse to lose. We're going to play hard for each other just like we have all year.
NS: What did you ask for Christmas from Santa?
TB: There are a lot of things right now and I'm trying to narrow them down because I know Santa is a busy man. He might not be able to make all of my wishes come true. I'm asking for a camcorder, a laptop, a CD burner, and a TV in my car but I know that's not gonna happen. Oh yah. A win would be nice.
NS: Does Santa have that kind of power?
TB: I don't know but if he does he can use it on that one.
NS: Thanks Tony.
TB: Was that good?