“It’s been really great just being here as a young freshman,” said Takitaki with a smile. “Like I said, I’m learning from the older guys and they’re just really showing me the ropes and how it’s done. I’m just really trying to compete at a higher level. It’s been great having all these coaches who coach us up, and just really go out there on the field and perform.”
When Takitaki’s number was called during the Houston game, he strapped on his helmet, jogged out onto the field to the roar of the crowd. As he did so the first impression that came to him mind was, ‘Make a play in front of the crowd.’
“Oh, it was intense and I really wanted to make a play in front of the crowd,” Takitaki said. “I really wanted to make a nice play in front of the crowd and it was really a lot of fun. You know, I had a goose bumps and was a little nervous. I didn’t know what was coming, and, you know, after that first bang and that first play I thought, ‘Oh, I can handle this.’ After that, things sort of settled down for me.”
Over the course of fall camp, Sione Takitaki was learning Bronco Mendenhall’s staunch defense from the inside linebacker position. He was quickly moved to the outside to play former BYU Cougar, now NFL Detroit Lion, Kyle Van Noy’s old position at the wheel linebacker spot.
“Working with Coach [Kelly Poppinga] has been a great experience,” said Takitaki. “He’s a great coach and I’m happy I moved over to play for him. Coach Tidwell is also a great coach, you know? He’s another coach that knows what he’s talking about and is just a great guy.
“It would have been really good for me if I stayed in the middle, but I really like the outside and being coached by Coach K-Pop because of his enthusiasm in the class room and the way he’s teaching us. I really learn a lot from him.”
However, with up and coming talents such as Fred Warner and Troy Hinds also looking to play outside linebacker, the BYU coaches will want to get their best players out on the field at the same time. There could be a chance that Sione Takitaki moves back into the middle in the future.
“I’m a team player so I’ll play inside and outside,” said Takitaki. “I’m just here to do what the coaches tell me and to help the team. Anyway I can do that, I’ll be happy.”
In the meantime, Takitaki knows that in order to see the field more he has to progress on the practice field. Learning the plays and being trusted by the coaches to execute them is the current hurdle Takitaki has to jump.
“Just hard work every day at practice, you know?” said Takitaki. “Every practice every day is an opportunity to get better. Just improving upon your own skills and as a team overall. That’s kind of how our team looks at it and everything is going really good. We just have to keep on the gas and keep our foot on the gas pedal and that’s how we look at it. We just have to go out there and compete.”
Against Virginia, Takitaki wants to go out and simply make plays in front of the BYU fans. He’s receiving more time as time goes by. In fact, Takitaki played the whole last series of the Houston game. It seems the BYU coaches are beginning to trust him more and more. He hopes he gets his chance to shine this Saturday and do one thing: bring the fear.
“I’m just trying to make plays out there and have everybody swarm to the ball like how we have been lately with the last three games,” said Takitaki. “Everyone just need to go out and get it man. Bring the fear.”
With Virginia quarterback Greyson Lambert being more of a pocket passer than an actual read-option quarterback, Takitaki might have his chance to do just that.
“Their quarterback, you know, he’s not a scramble quarterback,” said Takitaki. “He stays in the pocket, so we’re going to have to try and get after him. Have him, you know, a little scared. Hopefully if we can get back there and get some sacks he’ll be a little roughed up.”
After the BYU Cougars hard-fought victory over the Cougars of Houston, the team moved up in the polls, where they currently sit at number 21 in the AP Poll and number 23 in the USA Today Amway Coaches Poll.
“It’s great and everyone loves it but we’re still all hungry,” said Takitaki. “We’re still hungry to eat, so we’re going to go out there like it’s our first game. Coach Howell just says it’s a one game [season each week], so we look at it like that like it’s a one game a season and compete at a high level.”
Cougar Cam: Sione Takitaki
BYU outside linebacker Sione Takitaki talks about his playing time and new experiences at BYU. Takitaki gives his thoughts about playing against Houston on the last series, about coming to BYU, and why he wanted to come play football at BYU. He also talks about his love for his mother and his uncle Petelo and the Hifo family.