"This is the game of the year right here," said Manase Tonga with a smile. "With ESPN College GameDay coming into town, you've got two great teams playing and it just goes to show you what we are attracting here in Provo, Utah. The way we play is attracting attention all across the nation, and with TCU coming into town it's a game worth watching."
So how will the Cougars treat this game? Well, first of all they don't want to get caught up with distractions, and secondly, they want to prepare for the contest as best as they can.
"Obviously this is TCU and they're ranked top 10, but we want to treat it emotionally like we would any other conference team at home," Tonga said. "Anytime we play at home to defend our territory, we want to make sure we are prepared as best we can emotionally, physically and mentally. We'll be ready to go on Saturday and it's going to be a great game. This is a chance for us to get one step closer to a conference championship and reach our goals. "
To achieve their goal of winning a conference championship, the Cougars will likely need to beat TCU. This is also a chance for the Cougars to exact a bit of revenge for their loss to the Horned Frogs last year.
"We have to have that mindset that we are playing at home in front of 65,000 screaming fans and this is our place, so we have to continue to improve upon the things we've learned over the past weeks and prepare for this specific game and not let any distractions get in the way," said Tonga. "Everybody is just focused and if you ask anybody they would tell you they're ready to play tomorrow."
Tonga tore his PCL during the UNLV game and had been rehabbing ever since. This week he has been going through a light practice workout with the team to not only better understand the game plan and prepare for TCU's defense, but also to further strengthen his knee. Tonga expects to play this Saturday.
"Yeah, I'm ready and I'm ready to go right now," said Tonga. "I'm expecting to play. The coaches said for me not to push it too much but I'll be ready to go by Saturday. I've been practicing a little bit this week and I've been able to increase the load as the week goes on. It's been more about getting the strength back in my knee, but I'll be ready to go."
When Tonga sees the field this Saturday, he expects to see a defense quick to the ball with conservative play. He doesn't expect to see much different than what the Cougar offense has seen from various teams they've already faced.
"[TCU] isn't a fancy team at all and they just play you straight up," said Tonga. "They rely a lot on their speed and keep everything in front of them. With us, our game plan is to attack but we can't get too greedy. They're a straight up 4-2-5 team. They're very aggressive against the run and like to keep things in front of them. Their defense is number one against the run and they do like to fly around out there. They have physical linebackers and they can move around out there, and they'll come up and smack you, but that's the kind of game we like.
"I don't think it will be anything we aren't used to, but they have a really solid defensive team. It's going to be hard to find chinks in their armor, but we'll get to that during the game. Hopefully we can wear them down and find little holes in their defense. We have to take what they give us and just chip away at them and then we'll see how things turn out at the end of the game. I'm excited to play and can't wait to play. Missing a week of football has been too long."