Fuga Out, Rowley In

With starting tackle Romney Fuga being lost for the year, the Cougar defensive front has had to adjust. Eathyn Manumaleuna will now see the majority of reps from the nose tackle spot, while true freshman Graham Rowley will see backup duty at the starting end position Manumaleuna vacated.

The defensive line rotation will now be Jordan Richardson and Eathyn Manumaleuna rotating at nose tackle, while the rotating ends will be Vic So'oto, Thomas Bryson, Matt Putnam, true freshman Graham Rowley and even Manumaleuna a little bit.

"Coach Kaufusi has told me that I'll be going back to end a lot of the time when Jordan comes in to play nose tackle," said Manumaleuna. "I was finally getting used to playing end after having a hard time adjusting to it, but now I'm back playing the middle, but doing whatever is best for the team is what it's all about."

Manumaleuna spent his true freshman year starting at nose tackle before leaving for his mission, so it's not exactly a baptism by fire. It is tougher than most fans would think, however.

"I really didn't want to go back to the middle after I got so comfortable at end," he said. "It's not because I don't want to play middle or not help out the team, it's just hard for me now with all the assignments changing up again."

He's only been getting the bulk of his work at nose tackle for two practices now, and he's already adjusting better after the second day.

"The first day it was tough, I'm not going to lie," he said. "But having that full year playing the middle, it's starting to come back and that was just after my second day, so I'm sure I'll get it again. I think I'll be even stronger now because of this because now I'll be able to play both effectively."

The biggest difference simply comes with the amount of blockers he has to take on. At end, he only has to take on one blocker most of the time, while at nose he rarely - if ever - takes on just a single blocker.

"It's definitely more physical," explained Manumaleuna. "I'm not as used to that now as I have been, but like I said, I'll get it back. I know I'm capable of doing it."

Anger Still There

Romney Fuga's injury was met with shock and then a lot of anger according to Manumaleuna, who grew very close to Fuga this past year.

"That was just a cheap shot, I don't care what they say," said Manumaleuna about the clip on Fuga that ended his season. "Romney is the greatest guy you'll ever meet and it's really unfair. He's just a humble and nice guy, so that really makes you angry."

So did he have the notion to get back at the player who caused the injury?

"It was tough, I'm not going to lie," said Manumaleuna. "That's not what we're about here at BYU, but it probably didn't sink in as much during the game as it has now, because I've just gotten really angry about it since it happened. It's just really, really tough to let that go because of how it happened and because of how great of a guy Romney is and what he means to this team."

Enter Rowley

Graham Rowley wasn't happy about the fact he was going to be redshirted. Few true freshmen are.

"I was a little bummed to be sure until it was explained to me how big of a benefit it could be," he said. "I was doing well and thought I was doing well on the scout team and sort of locked into doing that before Romney got hurt."

Rowley will now fill in at the backup end position, where he'll rotate with Matt Putnam. After a bit of an initial shock, he's confident that he'll be able to fill in effectively.

"I don't know how much I'll play, but I do know that I'll have to be ready to go in at any time," he said. "I'm just excited to play. We all want to play and to help the team and I'm really happy about that. It hurts the defense having a guy like Romney out, but hopefully I can help so we don't miss him as much."

Since arriving at BYU two weeks prior to fall camp, Rowley began taking ready notes from Manumaleuna and all the other defensive ends in the program.

"I knew guys would be helpful here, but they really help you more than I even expected," he said. "Eathyn has probably helped me out the most, but everyone - Vic, Matt Putnam, Coach Kaufusi, obviously - everyone has been a huge help. I've loved my time here so far. I've gotten better as a football player and hopefully I can help this team now. I also love BYU and being a student here."


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