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Player Watch: Uani 'Unga

Uani 'Unga was at one time playing against BYU, now he is filling up the stat sheets for the Cougars. The cousin to the BYU great Harvey Unga is making a name for himself through hard work and sure tackling.

Uani 'Unga against Weber State
Uani 'Unga against Weber State
Douglas C. Pizac-US PRESSWIRE

Today the BYU Cougars are in Texas to take on the undefeated Houston Cougars. At 5-0 Houston is trying to extend their winning streak and beat a BYU team that is starting to role. Some think that the Houston offense will be too tough for a stout BYU defense. One player that will have a say in the outcome is senior linebacker Uani ‘Unga.

Uani has suddenly found himself the leading tackler on a very tough and determined defense. With returning starters Kyle Van Noy and Daniel Sorenson, nobody would have guessed that ‘Unga would have 15 more tackles than Van Noy at this point in the season. With 19 solo tackles and 35 assisted, ‘Unga has racked up 54 total tackles, three tackles for loss, a pass breakup, a quarterback hurry, a forced fumble, and a fumble recovery. These are solid stats for a player that had a total of 28 tackles in all of 2012.

Before BYU

It is interesting to note that this is only the second year that ‘Unga has played for the Cougars, not counting his redshirt year where he spent time on the scout team. As a freshman at Oregon State, Uani played in all 13 games, including the Las Vegas Bowl against BYU. He recorded 12 tackles that year and then followed it up the next year with 12 tackles as well. Due to transfer rules he sat out and redshirted in 2011 and then started his playing career at BYU.

Watch Closely

With solid play and a nose for the ball, look for ‘Unga to keep putting up numbers like he has so far this year. With the defensive line and Van Noy flushing quarterbacks out of the pocket and into ‘Unga, he very well could have another 16 tackle game like he did in Logan. Those 16 tackles in one game set a career high for him and set the tone for another double digit tackling game against Georgia Tech. The only difference he can point out is that he usually calls his wife on game day to check on the kids. When facing Utah State he didn't make the call and had an incredible game. Who knows if he has stuck to his plan to not call his wife on game day again, but whatever he is doing is making him a star. #It'sOnlyWeirdIfItDoesn'tWork

Check out his post game interview against Georgia Tech: