Poly Pipeline: Contributions by BYU's polynesian players in 2017

Sione Takitaki (16) and Handsome Tanielu (92) celebrate a big play against Portland State (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)

A huge part of the history and tradition of BYU Cougars football is the contributions of Polynesian players. Therefore, Blue Cougar Football will start emphasizing this element of the BYU football identity. There is a new page, Poly Pride, where posts like this one will be catalogued. At least once a month, the site will do something to feature the Polynesian influence on BYU football.

Since the 2017 football season just ended, let's look a the Polynesian contributions this season.

Defense Standouts
Sione Takitaki, DL: Second on team in tackles (79), first in tackles for loss (12.5), second in sacks (5), first in quarterback hurries (4).

Butch Pau'u, LB: Third on team in tackles (74), three TFL.

Corbin Kaufusi, DL: Fourth on the team in tackles (67), third in TFL (7.5), first in sacks (6), blocked one kick.

Handsome Tanielu, DL: 30 tackles, one sack

Kesni Tausinga, DL: 29 tackles, 1.5 sacks

Merrill Taliauli, DL: 27 tackles, 1 fumble recovery returned 8 yards.

Khyiris Tonga, DL: 19 tackles, 4 TFL, third on the team in sacks (2).

Trajan Pili, DL: 17 tackles, 3 TFL, second on team in quarterback hurries (2).

Morgan Unga, LB: 16 tackles, lead team in tackles vs. San Jose State (8)

Defensive Totals
  • 456 tackles (47% of team total),
  • 36 TFL (65%),
  • 15 sacks (88%),
  • 14 pass breakups (34%),
  • 11 QB hurries (100%),
  • 2 fumble recoveries (22%),
  • 4 forced fumbles (36%)

Ula Tolutau, RB: Second on team in rushing yards (303), and rushing touchdowns (2), team's leading rusher in five games.

Aleva Hifo, WR: Second on team in receiving yards (437), and third in receiving touchdowns (2), team's leading receiver in three games.

Kavika Fonua, RB: Second leading rusher vs. Portland State (59).

Tuni Kanuch, OL: Started all 13 games.

Offensive Totals 
  • 390 yards rushing (23%)
  • 90 carries (22%)
  • 601 yards receiving (24%)
  • 55 receptions (24%)
  • 6 total touchdowns--4 receiving, 2 rushing (24%)

Butch Pau'u was voted team captain.
Neil Pau'u scored the first points of the season.
BYU's leading tackler was a Polynesian in nine games.
Taliauli's fumble return was the only BYU fumble recovery returned all season.
Moroni Laulu-Pututau, TE, was set to be a major contributor on offense until a pre-season injury kept him out all year.

The Editor appreciates all feedback. He can be reached via email at bluecougarfootball@gmail.com