Just a Glimpse

An estimated 10,000+ in LaVell Edwards Stadium got a sneak peek of the future of BYU's running game. Tonga terrors Fui Vakapuna and Manase Tonga lined up together in the backfield to give a little demonstration of "shock and awe." Their performance left no doubt that the Cougar's ground attack is here to stay.

BYU's 33rd annual Blue-White Game amounted to a 48-play scrimmage comprised of 10 scripted drives. It was much shorter than in years past and for good reason, BYU had no depth at the offensive line spot. Coach Mendenhall did not want to risk injury to more of his O-line. In fact, he even kept several of the first team players out at other positions.

Fans did not get a chance to see senior running back Curtis Brown show his on-field magic. Wayne Latu and Ray Hudson got the bulk of the carries. Senior quarterback John Beck only completed two passes (2 of 5 for 21-yards), but his backup, Jason Beck, (7 of 14 for 77-yards) fared better against the second team defense.

Despite the shortened game plan, BYU fans did have a chance to see sophomore tailback Fui Vakapuna run behind his good friend and roommate fullback Manase Tonga. Vakapuna carried the ball four times for 34-yards averaging 8.5 yards a carry. Vakapuna showed his speed and athleticism on a 10-yard run that ended with a hurdle into the end zone for a touchdown.

"Today was okay," smiled Vakapuna. "I felt good and got a couple runs in. I'm just happy I got the touchdown in for the fans and the team. It was a different kind of scoring system and the defense scored 70 points. I didn't know the defense could score that many points man, but it was good and I felt comfortable out there."

After participating in14 practice session, there was not much more for the players to show the coaches in Saturday's scrimmage. The day was really about having fun and getting the fans excited to the new season.

"Coach Mendenhall talked about being competitive and putting on a show for the fans—just for us to do the best we can," said Tonga.

And put on a show they did. Both Vakapuna and Tonga wowed fans and brought cheers from the stands on Vakapuna's touchdown run early in the game.

"I credit our offensive linemen," said Vakapuna. "They're the ones up front blocking and Manase too. He's the one laying it down as ‘thunder' out there in front. All I did was to try and make a play and I got a little lucky and did.

"The offensive line we have right now is good, but when we get our starting guys back in we're going to blow it up and run up a lot of points. I think we're going to blow it up out there."

Leading the way for Vakapuna on his touchdown run was Tonga, who, when heard the play called in the huddle, said things livened up just a little bit.

"For those who were able to see the show today, you know what shock and awe is all about," laughed Tonga. "As soon as I heard the play call, I already knew it was going to be shaky. I looked at the linebacker and I felt sorry for that guy. As soon as we broke the huddle we started laughing. I like having Fui back there. We joke around a lot, have fun and at the same time get the job done, so it's a good combination.

"We're just out here having fun and doing our thing. It was a little short today due to the fact we had six O-linemen rotating today, so we had to keep it short to keep them fresh. Considering the fact we have a lot of injured players, I think we did very well. The defense is always out there hustling around doing their thing and they showed up to play today."

Neither Vakapuna nor Tonga showed any signs of the minor injuries they suffered over spring practice.

"Today I felt healthy," Vakapuna said. "The little injury I had over spring practice is gone and I felt healthy today. Everything was in sync, and I just did what I had to do."

With the Blue-White game signaling the end of spring camp, the dynamic dual have already set their summer goals, and will throw themselves headlong into a full blown summer workout program to achieve them.

"The goal over the summer is to get faster and stronger without getting bigger," said Vakapuna. "I'm going to try and get faster and stronger and I just want to stay focused on what I have to do to improve and stay healthy.

"I'm going to stay here at BYU and workout with Coach Omer so he can help me out. I know I'll do well if I just follow the system and do what I can I'll improve. My goals over the summer are to just get my speed up and get stronger, and that's pretty much it."

"It's about training," said Tonga. "We're going to just get bigger, faster and stronger and get ready for Arizona."

By the time fall camp starts, Vakapuna will have had eight months to remove what little rust he accumulated during his missionary service in Carlsbad, California.

"All I can say is wait until everybody sees what's going to happen in the fall," smiled Vakapuna. "Everything is going to be put in sync and we'll have more training and be more prepared.

"On defense we'll have big Matangi Tonga out there, you know what I mean? He's the man right here and I know the defense will tear it up and they did good today, but mainly today we just wanted to have fun, stay focused, stay poised and stay healthy."

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