"On the Spot" w/ NT Sione Fua [#92]

As the rising 5-1 Cardinal gets set for Saturday's Homecoming game against the WSU Cougars (not to be confused with the abundance of "Cougars" that can be found in the Chuck Taylor Grove at each homecoming weekend) The Bootleg partner Dave Fowkes caught up with senior nose tackle Sione Fua to see how things look for the date with Wash State.

"On the Spot" w/ NT Sione Fua [#92]

Stanford senior nose tackle Sione Fua is certainly enjoying his final year on The Farm. After coming to Stanford an enduring a 1-11 season, Fua is now a team tri-captain on a Cardinal squad that has produced an impressive 5-1 record through the first half of the season.


Stanford had its bye week last weekend, affectionately known as "improvement week." The team was given a full five days off for all their success and hard work. Of course that did not stop the players from getting out there last Thursday for a little player-run practice.


I caught up with Fua to talk about the bye, the first half of the season, and the rest of the season to come:


The Bootleg: How did your little mini-vacation feel, a couple of days off from practice?


Sione Fua: It was definitely good mentally and physically for the team. Get a few days off and get your body back, get your mind right for this game. We had our own little "player practice". We came out and got loose a little bit. You could tell when we came back (Monday) everyone was energetic and feeling good and we were ready to get started on Washington State.


TB: Was the five days a surprise to you or did you see it coming?


SF: Actually Harbaugh let us know beforehand, "However many games you win before the bye week is how many days you are going to get off." We won five games, so we knew that we were going to have five games off. We were trying to get six days but things did not work out. But we knew we were going to have five days and I think we earned them.


TB: When you have a long break like that, do you do anything to get away from football or is it in the back of your mind all the time?


SF: You definitely do things to get away from it, but it is always in the back of your mind. Coach Harbaugh calls it an "improvement week". You want to get away from it, but you have to remember we are still in the middle of the season and we have a lot of things in front of us. We still have to stay a little bit in the film room. You still have to work out, you can't just not do anything for a whole week. You definitely get away from it, but you have to keep your mind on the task at hand and the rest of the season.


TB: I know it is always about looking forward, but it is the midway mark in the season. At 5-1, do you take a couple of seconds to look back at the first half of the season?


SF: Yes. We have accomplished a lot. We met a lot of our goals. We still have a lot of goals in front of us. It is really crazy how fast the season goes. A lot of people say during camp that the season is a marathon, but really it is a sprint. The weeks go by so fast. We are already at Week Seven right now. We have accomplished a lot, but we still have a lot in front of us, six more games and hopefully seven, so we just have to be ready every week.


TB: Give me two or three things that you are really proud of with your team and give me a couple of things you would like to see really worked on?


SF: From the first half of the season, one of the big things we wanted to work on in the offseason was starting the game fast and finishing. We have this little scorecard that keeps track of the first quarter points and the fourth quarter points. So far we have dominated. I think so far we have won the first and fourth quarter in every game, we have scored more points in the first and fourth quarter (except the fourth in Eugene). That is one thing for which I am really proud of our team. Another thing is that the defense came out and had some big games and some big stops. We just have to come out and keep going in the second half.


TB: What are a few things to improve on?


SF: One of the things is we have to handle the ball better. We had some turnovers. We had some plays we could have prevented. Another thing is the defense needs to swarm a little bit better. I think there are a few games where we were not playing as hard as we could have. We definitely need to pick it up in the second half. So far from the first few days of practice we have been running a lot harder and playing a lot harder and getting after it.


TB: You have WSU coming up. A lot of comparisons have been made today about WSU being now where Stanford was a few years ago. Do you see that?


SF: Definitely! They are not a bad team at all. The past few games they have been "in it" until the end. They definitely have the ability and the talent to beat us. One of the things about them is they play really physical, they play hard, they play tough. Don't expect them to come in here and just lay down. They are going to come in here and try to beat us. They are trying hard for that first Pac-10 win. You can see definitely see some of us in them. They are backed up against the wall and fighting to get there and come out fighting for that first win. They are going to come in here and do whatever they can and throw everything they have at us.


TB: What are some of the keys for the defensive line to shut down WSU?


SF: For us, they are going to come and want to pound the ball. They have two great running backs. They have a good and big offensive line. It is probably one of the biggest we have faced so far. They just want to run down your throat. They show you a lot of different formations and looks. They just want to run the ball, anyway they can. So the biggest thing for the front seven is you have to stop that run. If you don't, they will keep pounding it. You have to be able to stop the run and put them in situations where we can blitz them and attack them and hopefully make some big plays and get some turnovers and get some sacks. That is the plan for us right now.


TB: This is your senior season, halfway through it. It is a lot of work, are you having a good time?


SF: Definitely! It is always fun when you are winning. I was here in the dark years when we were 1-11 so I definitely have come a long way. We have put in the work and that is the biggest thing. We put in the work, we deserve it. It is a good feeling, we are having fun so we just have to come out and finish the second half of the season.

Dave Fowkes is a longtime Stanford Cardinal fan. Born at Stanford hospital and raised on the Peninsula, he has been a football season ticket holder since 1981. In that span he has only missed three home games, but of course never a Big Game. Dave currently works in media both on the air and behind the scenes in advertising sales. He has covered sports on and off since 1992. Currently he works as a traffic, news and sports man on several Bay Area radio stations under a few different on-air aliases. Dave blends the passion of being a fan with the perspective of being a reporter in his stories. For more Stanford football coverage by Dave Fowkes, you can read the "Stanford Football Examiner" at www.stanfordfootballreport.com  

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