2 Minute Drill with senior Siua Musika

He's been a starter on the Vandal defensive line since his true freshman season in 2004. Since then, SIUA MUSIKA (6-1, 293) has made 28 starts at nose guard and played in 30 games in three years. An injury held him out of much of spring camp this year, but his anticipated return to the depth chart this fall is crucial as he will be a leader on an improving Vandal defensive front line.

PLAYER PROFILE: Siua Musika, 6-1, 293, Senior, Nose Guard

Musika as a senior at Milpitas High.
It took just a few minutes of research when Siua committed to Idaho in 2004 to realize he had the potential to make an immediate splash in Moscow. As a senior at Milipitas High School in 2003, Musika earned All Santa Clara Valley Conference honors as a 280-pound LINEBACKER who clocked a 4.9-second 40-yard dash. He logged 102 tackles that year (53 unassisted), and also rushed for 479 yards and four touchdowns as a runningback. He was recruited to Idaho as a defensive lineman, and by the second week of the season had claimed the starting noseguard position for the Vandals.

He's held that perch for much of the last three years, and this spring was entrenched as the starter until an injury forced him to the sidelines. It's an usual position for Musika and the fans that have watched him develop over the years, as he's been one of the most durable athletes on the team over the years.

Without a doubt his return to full-strength is crucial to the success of the defensive unit this fall. As has been previously reported, Idaho lost one of its 300-pound defensive tackles this spring with the loss of sophomore-to-be Marvin Jones. Couple that with junior Alex Toailoa missing spring camp to focus on academics, and Idaho's options for "veteran" interior defensive linemen with size gets limited.

Junior DE/DT Josh Shaw (6-2, 260) is an outstanding athlete who is going to get serious playing time this fall at D-end and D-tackle. But after Shaw, Idaho may be fielding an extremely young unit on the interior D-line. Redshirt freshmen Jonah Sataraka (6-2, 280) and DE/DT Aaron Lavarias (6-3, 245) are promising (Lavarias played extensively inside in the Spring Game), while recruits Fonomanu Sekona (6-2, 293) and Michael Cosgrove (6-4, 260) are looking more and more like they will see action early.

Musika against Nevada, 2005.
It's one thing if this group can all work together with veteran 300-pounders like Musika (and Toailoa) leading the charge. It's a much different matter without them.

Statistically Musika's career has not been earth-shattering - he generally records in the mid-20s in tackles.

But it's the fact that he gets after the player in front of him - and is a warrior in the trenches - which helps the linebackers behind him make their reads. And he's done this on a D-line that is just now developing the depth to be more competitive. THAT is what makes him such an asset to this team on the gridiron.

The last three years have been a learning process under-fire. Over that time he's started 28 games for the Vandals, including 11 starts as a true freshman. He's missed a total of five games in three years.

This fall he has a loaded linebacking corps backing him up, a couple All-American caliber DBs in the backfield, and help along the defensive line (veterans like DE Ben Alexander, Toailoa, and Shaw, newcomers like DE Marcus Pedro, and an emerging young depth chart).

Assuming he's healthy, it's a situation where he has the potential to flourish.

VV.com caught up with Musika recently and he had the following to say about his goals for himself and the team this fall.

Fall camp as a freshman, 2004.
LARRY JOHNSON - As a senior and leader on this team – you've been a starter since your freshman season – what are your expectations for yourself this fall, and what are your expectations for the team?

SIUA MUSIKA - "I expect us to do a lot better now than in the past just because the guys I came in with, we're now seniors. We were the building group; so it's going to be good to look forward and see what can do as we've matured over the years."

LJ - What do you think you do best, and what do you think has improved the most during your career in Moscow?

SM - "Probably just being a person and trying to be balanced and what not. It's hard trying to find that balance. Even though I'm a senior, I haven't mastered the trick yet. But I'm getting to the point where I'm starting to learn how to balance things in life like time management with school, discipline...gotta do homework, gotta go to practice, gotta lift weights. You've just got to keep trying your best."

LJ - Prior to your arrival – including the year you arrived – Idaho was fielding an extremely young defense. This year it is a veteran defense loaded with players with 3 or so years of playing experience, and a majority of returning starters. What does that experience mean to how the team around you prepares now? How important is that experience?

SM - "Experience is everything, because experience is how you learn, you know what I'm saying? You can learn by the books and stuff, but you don't really know how to "know" and "learn" it until you've experienced it; so I think now that we have a lot of veterans this year we're going to be a little more on point than in the past."

Musika at Michigan State, 2006.
LJ - Describe the play of the defensive line around you. How has the play of that line changed and improved during your career?

SM - "Technique is technique. It goes back to experience, you know. Just learning one play at a time, changing footsteps or what not. But for the most part I think that as a cohesive group, together we've gotten a little better just playing next to each other and feeling each other out."

LJ - How does the new defense under Coach Criner compare to last year's defense? Do you like the new schemes? You have a veteran team around you, but are the players picking up the differences?

SM - "We're getting it together right now. We're still learning. There are still mistakes. You can always get better, but I would say I like the new techniques and things that they're teaching us. It's a little different from the past, but I think all together, as you see the defense as a whole, it's probably better in the big picture."

LJ - Describe your new DL coach Johnny Nansen? He's been at Idaho since you arrived in '04. What does he bring to your unit, and how are the players responding to him?

SM - [chuckling] "Ah, coach Nansen's crazy. He's just a real intense guy, you know? Just real on fire. Generally works every time...Just a real hard working coach. He gets things out of us that normal coaches probably couldn't get because we're such a chill group...but he comes and he gets us fired up. We need that extra intensity level from him to get us going sometimes.

LJ - What was it like the first time you met coach Akey?

SM - "Honestly, I love the guy. He says the same thing as everybody else, but he brings a positive twist to it, and that's what he was emphasizing. I just respect that he knows how to adjust things as a person, just like real life issues. He knows how to adjust things as a coach. Not too many coaches honestly have people skills, but he's one of the guys that do."

LJ - What's your favorite music?

SM - "My favorite music? Right now it's probably worship music. I like worship music. Christian worship music.

LJ - Thank you very much!

SM - "Thank you."

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