Hafoka Seeing Many Reps in Spring Ball

Total Blue Sports was able to spend a little time with BYU Cougar Saia Hafoka this week. The freshman wide receiver shared his thoughts on the new offense, team unity under Coach Mendenhall, and on his conditioning after an LDS mission.

Saia Hafoka is enjoying himself as a wide receiver in Coach Anae's new offense. In this offense, which creates space for backs and receivers, Hafoka is getting a lot of reps this Spring.

"I play the slot position and it's a position I really feel comfortable with and that I feel suits my abilities well," said Hafoka. "I block a lot on the outside screens as the slot guy, so I'm really trying hard to improve on that. We're often the key blockers for the outside guys, so it's important that I do well there."

But Hafoka, of course, is not an offensive linemen. Indeed it would be hard to confuse the 5-9, 165 receiver with the big boys up front. "I mostly run just quick routes, which is great for me," said Hafoka. "If we see blitzes then we just run real quick simple routes, so the quarterback can get rid of the ball early."

One play where Hafoka has been featured is the wide receiver sweep wimilar to what rival Wyoming runs. "Yeah, I love that play," he said. "I love having the ball and being able to run with it. It's a lot of fun."

Hafoka has now been back from his LDS mission for about a year and admitted to only recently regaining his speed and his legs. "I feel that I have my speed back and I definitely feel better than I did last year," said Hafoka. "It's hard coming back, but I feel that I'm fully back now and I have my legs back."

As the offense begins to add more and more to the playbook, Hafoka feels it is coming along great for himself and for his offensive teammates. "We have a set number of five or six plays or sets that we focus on during drills and then basically just do those plays in the scrimmage," said Hafoka. "Yeah, the defense knows what is coming, but we run it from different sets, so that helps. Once we put it all together, then it will be much harder for the defense to defend."

Like many players on the team, Hafoka has seen a definite increase in unity and overall team emotion. "Oh, we're excited to play and get going," he said. "We have great leaders and they help us a lot."

As an example, Hafoka referred to running back Fahu Tahi as someone who really rallied the team prior to yesterday's practice. "Fahu just gathered us around him and encouraged all of us to give it our all and it really hyped us up," Hafoka recounted. "We're playing against our own team, but when we give it our all, then it only helps them become better over on the defense."

Hafoka really looks up to leaders like Fahu Tahi and believes that they will lead the team to great things this coming season as they begin to fully implement Coach Anae's offensive system. "Fahu is a great leader as are some of the other guys," said Hafoka. "They really make it fun and the whole system is fun to play in. We've never worked harder, but we've also never had as much fun as a team."

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