Scouting Report: Colorado State

After a bye week, the Cougars are anxious to dig their claws into the Rams of Colorado State, winners of only one game all season. Giving TBS the scouting report on CSU's defensive line are Dallas Reynolds, Dennis Pitta and Harvey Unga.

Colorado State just came off a 27-3 loss to the University of Utah. Utah junior running back Ray Stowers ran for a career high of 123 yards and a touchdown. BYU running back Harvey Unga, who is back after sitting most of last week out with an ankle injury, has to be licking his chops at the prospect of playing a Ram defense that gives up almost five yards per carry.

"They're a young team," said Unga. "With young teams come young mistakes. There are always those little things here and there and we're looking to capitalize on them. We are in no way downplaying them and will treat them like any other team that we've played this year. We're focusing now on them, and how we do that is by focusing on what we do best so we can capitalize on anything they may do."

"I don't think their record really shows what kind of a football team they are or can become," said offensive tackle Dallas Reynolds. "They've had some things go wrong and not their way during the season. I respect their team and their players because I've played against them. The big focus for us is to focus on what we do best."

Colorado State runs a very heads up defense. The Cougars will face a defense that has allowed 17 rushing touchdowns and 80 rushing first downs on the season, and gives up 213.0 rushing yards per game. Colorado State's defense has allowed an average of 31.3 points per game.

"For the most part in what we've seen is they run a 4-3-4 defense," said Unga. "They flow really well to the ball but they're not an overpowering type of a defense. They do flow well to the ball and tackle well."

The Rams have some good size playing across the defensive line. Their standout players on defense are their defensive ends. First, there's 6-foot-5-inch, 260-pound Jesse Nading (#59), who has eight solo tackles, 22 assisted tackles and 2.5 sacks on the seasons. Next, there's 6-foot-6-inch, 230-pound junior Tommie Hill (#91) and 6-foot-6-inch, 235-pound Wade Landers.

"They have some good defensive ends," said Reynolds. "I haven't really paid too much attention to the inside guys, but they're a pretty good defensive line. They're pretty much the same guys we played last year. It should be a good physical game."

Manning the middle is Erik Sandie (#95) out of De La Salle High School. Sandie is the second-leading tackler on the defensive line with 14 solo tackles, 14 assisted tackles and one sack currently on the season. Hill is third with 18 solo tackles and 10 assisted tackles. Also manning the trenches is 6-foot-2-inch, 269-pound senior Blake Smith (#97).

"They like to do a lot of twists and zone blitzing," said Reynolds. "It's up to us as linemen to always be on our toes, keep our heads up and stay alert, because if we don't see what's coming we're going to get caught and get into some trouble. As practice wears on this week we'll become more and more comfortable with what they do and I think we'll have a good game."

Unga had suffered a minor injury during the Eastern Washington game, but the extra time has allowed him to heal up for this rather important conference game.

"Coming off this bye week, it just feels like any other week for me," Unga said. "Heading into this game has kind of been a blessing for me because I've had a chance to get myself healed up a bit more. So, it's been really nice for me going into the conference game against CSU."

So has Unga been fully cleared by the trainers for the upcoming contest with Colorado State?

"I've been cleared to go full-go, and I've still got a little thing with my injury," Unga said. "But it's not going to stop me from playing this week. I've been doing a lot of rehab this past week with the trainer, doing everything from riding the bike to ankle workouts to the underwater treadmill. I've been doing some balancing things with a ball and whatnot, so I've been doing a bunch of different stuff getting myself ready."

Also helping Unga is the return of Fui Vakapuna.

"I feel [Vakapuna] is another blessing for me," said a chuckling Unga. "He comes in and brings that energy that I feed off of, and that the rest of the team feeds of off. With him back it will allow me to stay fresher during the games and down the stretch. He allows me to rest when I need it and brings that bruising type of style of his to the field, which wears down defenses. I'm just so grateful that Fui is back."

BYU's offense has scored an average of 30.3 points per game and has averaged 304.3 passing yards per game, while Colorado State has allowed an average of 201.4 yards per game. Tight end Dennis Pitta gives Total Blue Sports his view of the Colorado State defense in this audio interview.

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