BYU Linebacker Uani Unga getting primed to face former team

When the Brigham Young Cougars take the field Saturday to play the Oregon State Beavers, head coach Bronco Mendenhall won’t be the only one going against his former team. Linebacker Uani Unga spent the first two seasons of his college career in Corvallis wearing Beaver black and orange.

While this will be Mendenhall’s third encounter with the school he first played for and then helped coach, Unga is strapping it on for the first time. He transferred to BYU following the 2010 season, which made him ineligible for the 2011 season. When BYU went to Oregon to play the Beavers last October, Unga had to watch from the stands.

Although Unga would be eligible this season, there were no guarantees that he would get to play against his former teammates, including twin brother Feti. In fall camp, Uani Unga faced a stiff battle with Zac Stout for the back up linebacker position behind Uona Kaveinga. Fast forward six games and Unga has appeared in all six BYU games and made 12 tackles.

As the game with Oregon State approached, it seemed that Unga has been priming himself for a big game. Two of his most impactful plays have come in the last three games. Against Boise State, Unga made two tackles on the same fourth quarter series as BYU was trying to mount a comeback. His second tackle was for a one-yard loss on 3rd down and 1, which forced Boise State to punt.

Last week Utah State had one last chance to mount a comeback. The Aggies had taken over at their six-yard line with 5:06 to play. They quickly picked up two first downs and were out to the 31-yard line. That is when Unga halted the Aggies’ momentum. He rushed the passer on a delayed blitz and sacked the quarterback for a 9-yard loss. Two plays later, Utah State faced 4th and 11 and had to punt with just 2:06 to play.

Plays like these have to be building Unga’s confidence. It won’t be surprising to see him make the highlight reels again this week.

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