Saturday, October 30, 2010

Nebraska Beats Missouri 31-17 Behind Roy Helu’s Record Day

Things looked pretty scary there for a second when the Cornhuskers' lead was cut to ten, but Roy Helu Jr. has come to the rescue once again.

Missouri took their second possession of the half all the way to the house to temporarily cut Nebraska's lead to 24-10. For the record, the drive ended with a 23-yard pass from Blaine Gabbert to T.J. Moe (great name), Gabbert's first of the day.

With Taylor Martinez out, the Cornhuskers went to Roy Helu Jr. on the next drive. Needless to say, he delivered.

Already with touchdown runs of 66 and 73 yards, Helu Jr. it the hole and went 53 yards for yet another touchdown. That gives him a career-high 228 yards on 10 carries (that's a 22.8 yard average, folks), the majority of which has come on those three runs. He ended up finishing the day with 307 yards rushing against the #6 ranked Missouri team.

Missouri came into the game allowing only 114.6 yards on the ground every game, and shut down DeMarco Murray last week. So much for that.

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Friday, October 29, 2010

PFP College Football Highlights 2010

Here are some highlights of some of the many Polynesian College Football players doing it big this 2010 football season! Enjoy!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Idaho Linebacker JoJo Dickson’s College Career Is Over

Idaho linebacker JoJo Dickson underwent successful surgery Saturday, just hours after he broke his leg during the second half of the Vandals’ homecoming win over New Mexico State.

Dickson suffered a dislocated ankle and a broken leg after he was hit from behind by New Mexico State running back Kenny Turner, who was flagged for a personal foul on the play.

“You hate to see anybody get hurt, but I don’t think it was a vicious deal,” said Akey, who received an on-the-field apology from Turner after the game.

Akey said the injury looked worse than it actually was.

“I  thought both bones were broken because everything was turned in the other direction,” Akey said. “The ankle was dislocated, which was why things were pointing the wrong way. The doctor was able to fix that right out on the field.”

Akey went to the Gritman Medical Center in Moscow and helped wheel Dickson into the operating room.

The senior was out of surgery by 8:30 p.m. that night, and was discharged Monday morning.

“I went and saw him (Monday morning) and the surgery went great,” Akey said.

The injury ends Dickson’s college career, but Akey is hoping the captain can make the trip to Hawaii this week. Dickson is one of four Idaho players from Hawaii.

The Vandals leave for Honolulu on Friday.

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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Bingham RB Langi To Play In Army All-American Bowl

Bingham High School running back Harvey Langi was selected to play in the 2011 U.S. Army All-American Bowl, which features the nation's top 90 high school football players.

"Harvey is a talented athlete whose exemplary leadership and teamwork qualities have made him a standout at Bingham High School," said Col. Derik Crotts, Director of Strategic Communications, Marketing and Outreach, U.S. Army Accessions Command. "The strength, dedication, leadership and teamwork skills necessary to succeed on the football field are the same qualities mirrored in Army Strong Soldiers. We are proud to honor all of our U.S. Army All-American Bowl players and congratulate them on their selection."

Langi was selected by the U.S. Army All-American Bowl Selection Committee, which consists of All American Games' network of regional directors, and Tom Lemming. U.S. Army All-American players are eligible for the U.S. Army Player of the Year Award, the Anthony Muñoz Lineman of the Year Award, the Pete Dawkins Game MVP Award, and the Glenn Davis and Doc Blanchard U.S. Army Awards.

As a result of Harvey Langi being selected to the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, his head coach David Peck is invited to travel to San Antonio and attend the U.S. Army Coaches Academy, an elite three-day learning experience featuring NFL and NCAA coaches, as well as participate in game-week activities.

The game will be played on Saturday, January 8, 2011, at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas. The annual East vs. West match-up will be televised live on NBC at 11:00 a.m.

The game also crowns the U.S. Army Player of the Year during Bowl Week in San Antonio.

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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

'The Samoan Bulldozer' Garnering National Attention

Greer (SC) Greer inside linebacker Adam Ah Ching is earning a lot of attention on the recruiting trail, and with a nickname like "The Samoan Bulldozer", it would seem hard not to. The 6-1, 210-pound Ah Ching has picked up early offers from BYU, Colorado and Oregon State while schools like Notre Dame, Alabama, Cal, Clemson, LSU, Oregon, Penn State, South Carolina, South Florida, Stanford, UCLA, USC, Utah and Washington are showing serious interest.

One of the main things Ah Ching is letting college coaches know is his intent to serve his Mormon mission and how important that is to him, so that could play a factor in his recruitment.

"Any school that will let me serve my church mission, it's always been my dream to serve my mission," Ah Ching said. "It's always been my goal to let the coaches know that if they let me serve my mission I'll be interested in them.

"Some schools shy away from that because you leave for two years and some kids are out of shape. BYU is really not a favorite right now, it's just a matter of whatever school makes me a better person and is a great atmosphere for me."

Ah Ching, who has about 62 tackles (15 for loss) two sacks and a forced fumble this season, said that BYU "has always been like my dream school," and he camped with the Cougars this summer where he earned the defensive MVP award.

But he's keeping all of his options open and there are plenty of schools coming after the standout junior linebacker.

"LSU, Stanford, Notre Dame," said Ah Ching, who visited Clemson for a recent game. "I could go down the list."

Ah Ching also went to Oregon's camp this past summer and then made the short trip to Corvallis to check out Oregon State.

He already has the three early offers and also lists interest from Alabama, Cal, Penn State, South Carolina, South Florida, UCLA, USC, Utah and Washington. Many other schools should get involved as well.

"I'm having a great season," Ah Ching said. "Hopefully I get more offers and schools looking out for me after I send my highlight tape out."

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Monday, October 25, 2010

Ohio's Boo Jackson Named MAC Player of the Week

Ohio senior quarterback Boo Jackson (Gardena, Ca.) was selected as's Mid-American Conference Player of the Week Monday on the heels of his performance in Ohio's 34-13 win at Miami.
Jackson completed 10 of 19 passes for 149 yards and an interception, while rushing for 31 yards and two touchdowns in the key MAC East game.

Jackson, already the program's all-time leader in completion percentage (.603), pass efficiency (134.9), total offense per play (6.17) and passing yards per attempt (7.5), now has 29 career touchdown passes, just one shy of breaking Cleve Bryant's (1967-69) record. He also stands fourth in passing yards (3,611), sixth in touchdown responsibility (36), seventh with 290 completions and eighth with 481 pass attempts.

Ohio will face Louisiana Saturday at Peden Stadium at 2 p.m. ET.

Valiant Masoli: 425 Yards, 3 Touchdowns, 1 Defeat

Thursday night, Ole Miss quarterback Jeremiah Masoli watched as his former team, the No. 1-ranked Oregon Ducks, smoked UCLA 60-13 to move to 7-0.

Masoli watched a talented, veteran team, filled with his friends and filled with speedy playmakers, make play after dazzling play.

Here Saturday afternoon, Masoli endured a physical beating, two long lightning delays and a 38-24 defeat to Arkansas. Playing on a team that dropped to 3-4 overall and 1-3 in the SEC, Masoli operated behind a leaky, inexperienced line, often threw to freshman and sophomore receivers or handed off to young running backs. Yes, and Masoli probably played as well as he ever played in leading Oregon to the Rose Bowl and certainly as well as any Ole Miss quarterback has played since Eli Manning played out his eligibility.

Masoli ran for 98 yards on 15 carries. He completed 21 of 36 passes for 327 yards and three touchdowns. His 425 yards of total offense was the second highest single-game total in Ole Miss history behind only Archie Manning's magnificent 540-yard effort against Alabama 41 years ago.

Archie Manning lost that game, too, but everyone who saw it remembers his superb effort. Masoli lost this game, but we should all remember his heroic play. Even his gaudy numbers don't tell the entire story, because he often scrambled away from the fierce Razorbacks pass rush and threw while on the run. And when there was no running room, Masoli would just lower his head and push Arkansas tacklers backward.

Coming off two straight nine-victory, Cotton Bowl seasons, Ole Miss is off to a 3-4 start and Rebels fans are understandably disappointed. But any who still blame Masoli - or Houston Nutt for giving Masoli a second chance - just aren't paying attention. Presently, Jeremiah Masoli is an outstanding, experienced player on a mediocre, inexperienced team. Said Nutt, succinctly, "Jeremiah gives us a chance."Saturday afternoon, after all the weather delays and all the heckling from Arkansas fans, only one question left Nutt momentarily speechless: Where would you be without Masoli?

Nutt paused, whistled softly and shook his head. "Don't ask me that," he finally said.

Paying the price

We all know Masoli has made mistakes in his past. He is paying for those now. He should be the quarterback of those high-flying Ducks. He should be a Heisman Trophy candidate. It's his fault he is not. But say this for the guy: He is making the best he can of the situation. And he is making Ole Miss a competitive team, one that trailed 21-0 early, but fired back behind Masoli's remarkable play.

Through seven games, five starts, Masoli has thrown for 1,258 yards and run for 400 more. He has thrown 10 touchdowns, run for three. More than that, Nutt says, "He has been a great teammate and he has gone about everything the right way. Sometimes I want to pull him aside and ask him, 'Are you the same guy who got in trouble out there?' He's a winner. We couldn't ask any more of him."

Both Nutt and co-offensive coordinator Mike Markuson talked about how Masoli has become a team leader, trying to encourage his younger teammates. Said Markuson, "He's been there. He's won big games. He knows what it takes and he's trying to show the rest of them."

And what does he tell them?

"Just keep fighting," Masoli said. "That's all you can really tell them. There's only one way to get better and that's keep fighting. I thought we did keep fighting today, but to lose when you have so many opportunities, it's just frustrating."

He plays behind a line that included two freshmen, two sophomores and a junior. He throws to mostly freshmen and sophomores.

"We don't have a lot of experience," he said. "That's not an excuse."

It's just a fact. So is this: Oregon starts mostly seniors.

"They look really, really good," Masoli said of his former team. "They are really clicking on offense. I wish them well. I hope they go all the way."

Meanwhile, Masoli intends to continue to make good on his second chance."Every new SEC stadium I play in, I soak it in," Masoli said. "I feel blessed."

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Antolin Runs Over Washington

The ebb and flow of the game drained dry when Keola Antolin broke the longest play from scrimmage for Arizona in the second quarter during the Wildcats’ 44-14 romp over Washington.

Not only did Antolin twist and sidestep his way past Washington sophomore safety Justin Glenn on the 78-yard touchdown sprint in the second quarter, he effectively ran over the Huskies’ psyche. Only 18 seconds before Antolin’s run, Washington had cut the lead to 17-14 with 7:55 left in the second quarter on a Chris Polk 7-yard touchdown run.

Another Pac-10 classic at Arizona Stadium was in the making. The Huskies drove 55 yards on seven plays and appeared to be ready to match the UA drive-for-drive. That’s when Antolin went into overdrive on the very next offensive play from scrimmage after Polk’s touchdown.

“That was a long run, man,” Antolin said incredulously. “I felt like I ran 300 yards.”

“We challenged the offensive line to be more a physical unit, and to protect the quarterback better,” said UA coach Mike Stoops, whose team had more rushing yards a game (120.7) than only Washington State (80.1) in the Pac-10 entering the game.

“We were hard on those guys this week and they responded in a positive way.”

It helps to be blocking for a quick and physical runner like Antolin, who at 5-foot-8 and 186 pounds is hard to see charging into the line and tough to tackle once a defensive player is able to get a hand on him. Including Saturday night’s performance, in the last three games, Antolin has rushed for 281 yards on 43 carries (6.5 yards per attempt).

When asked if this is the best he’s played in his career, Antolin thought for a second and said, “Yes it is.” He also tried to deflect credit for his long touchdown run, giving props to a clear-out block from Grigsby. But his juke of poor Justin Glenn allowed him to break free and break Washington’s back.

“All week in practice coaches say you have to make a guy miss,” Antolin said. “I made (Glenn) miss and I went all the way.”

Antolin was so winded that he said it took him four minutes to recuperate. He did not lose energy on the sprint, however, while separating himself from Glenn and other Washington defenders.

“There was no way I was going to let anybody catch me,” Antolin said, “or else I know I’d hear about it from the coaches.”

Arizona center Colin Baxter knows all too well what it’s like to hear coaches in practice challenging players, especially this week for the beleaguered offensive line. He acknowledged, “You know, Coach Stoops is an excited guy …”

“We felt like we weren’t playing up to our potential,” Baxter said. “If Matt in there it enables us to do some QB run stuff … so that opened some stuff up.

“We hit on our assignments and our techniques.”

Antolin gets the glory of a 78-yard highlight-reel run. What does the offensive line get after a difficult week in practice and an effective performance Saturday night? A free lunch courtesy of Antolin?

“He should buy us one,” Baxter said with a laugh. “The bottom line is we did what we were supposed to do. I’ll take the win.”

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Martinez Gains More National Recognition

The honors continued to roll in for Taylor Martinez on Monday, as the redshirt freshman was announced as one of 16 semifinalists for the 2010 Davey O'Brien National Quarterback Award, in addition to earning a pair of player-of-the-week honors.

Martinez is the only freshman among the Davey O'Brien semifinalists and is one of four quarterbacks from the Big 12 Conference to make the list. He is the first Husker to be a semifinalist for the award since Eric Crouch, who won the award in 2001. The Davey O'Brien Award also features a fan vote that accounts for five percent of the voting total. Fans can vote for Martinez by visiting

A native of Corona, Calif., Martinez has led Nebraska to top-20 national rankings in rushing (fifth), scoring offense (10th) and total offense (17th). He has completed nearly 60 percent of his passes while throwing for 1,046 yards and eight touchdowns. On the ground, Martinez has rushed for 870 yards on 100 carries, scoring 12 times.

Martinez needs only 130 rushing yards to become just the third freshman in NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision history to both run and pass for 1,000 yards. Martinez is also 223 yards away from posting the highest rushing total ever by a freshman quarterback. Among the individual NCAA leaders, Martinez ranks in the top 10 nationally in rushing yards per game (9th) and scoring (t-10th) and is among the top 25 individuals in passing efficiency (20th) and total offense (23rd).

In addition to being a Davey O'Brien semifinalist, Martinez was also honored as the Big 12 co-Offensive Player of the Week and the National Freshman of the Week. The Big 12 honor marked Martinez's second honor in the past three weeks, while he was named the national freshman of the week for the fourth time this season. On Sunday, Martinez was also selected as the Walter Camp Foundation National Offensive Player of the Week.

Martinez was honored with those awards following an outstanding performance in Nebraska's 51-41 win at previously unbeaten Oklahoma State last Saturday. Against the Cowboys, Martinez completed 23-of-35 passes for 323 yards and five touchdowns, with each of those totals setting a Nebraska freshman record. He added 112 rushing yards on 19 carries to become the first Husker and only the fifth freshman in NCAA history to pass for 300 yards and rush for 100 yards in a single game.

Martinez's 435 yards of total offense set a Nebraska freshman record and ranked third overall in Husker history. Through seven games, Martinez has already set Nebraska freshman records for season passing yards (1,046), longest rush (80 yards, twice) and consecutive 100-yard rushing games (3), along with tying Ahman Green's freshman record of five 100-yard rushing games.

Martinez has also set Nebraska freshman game records for rushing touchdowns (4), passing touchdowns (5), passing yards (323) and total offense (435), and he also owns the Nebraska quarterback record for most rushing yards in a game (241).

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Friday, October 22, 2010

Safety Troy Polamalu A Danger To Pittsburgh's Opponents

There goes Pittsburgh Steelers safety Troy Polamalu, using his uncanny instincts to leap, Superman style, and sack the quarterback an instant after the ball is snapped.

And there's Polamalu again, reaching back to snare an impossible one-handed interception, the ball stuck like Velcro in his grasp.

Polamalu, among the NFL's best defensive players, is everywhere on the field — and the Steelers (4-1) are back in a familiar spot, atop the AFC North as one of the league's three one-loss teams.
The man with the cartoonish large pouf of jet-black hair cascading across his shoulders conjures a different type of cartoon for wary opponents.

"He's like 'Where's Waldo?'" Tampa Bay Coach Raheem Morris said recently. "You've got to know where he is on the field."

Miami will certainly be keeping tabs. The Dolphins play host to Pittsburgh on Sunday and will be especially aware of playing keep-away from Polamalu as they try to get the ball into the hands of star receiver Brandon Marshall.

How much of a game-changer is the former USC safety? Consider that the Steelers won three of their first four games this season without the services of suspended quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, yet were completely lost last season when Polamalu was sidelined with a knee injury. He makes that kind of impact.

The 16th overall pick in the 2003 draft, Polamalu is on a collision course with Canton and is among an elite collection of All-Pro NFL players to emerge from Los Angeles schools in the past two-plus decades — a group that includes USC's Junior Seau and Tony Boselli, and UCLA's Troy Aikman.

So what separates Polamalu from other safeties? A few experts on the position make their case.

NBC's Rodney Harrison, another two-time All-Pro safety, calls Polamalu "the defensive Randy Moss" for his ability to pull down any pass in his area code.

"I've never seen a guy make so many one-handed interceptions," Harrison said. "Every time that ball hits his hands. I don't care if it's one-handed, if it's behind him, if it's on the sideline, he's going to catch it and he's going to make sure he taps his feet."

Steelers fans won't soon forget the leaning, left-handed pick Polamalu made against Tennessee in last year's opener, a candidate for the most spectacular defensive play of the year.


One of the reasons the Steelers can get so creative with Polamalu, nudging him close to the line of scrimmage or deep in the defensive backfield, is his ability to cover ground so quickly.

"He's got feet like a running back," said NBC's Tony Dungy, a Super Bowl-winning coach and a former Pittsburgh defensive back. "He's not off balance very much, he can change directions quickly, and he's hard to knock off his feet when you're trying to block him.

"His feet allow him to stay in position and not miss many tackles."


Harrison says the Steelers safety has such a good feel for what's about to happen, it's as if he has "football ESP." Hall of Fame safety Rod Woodson, also a former Pittsburgh star, said those instincts allow Polamalu to bend the rules a bit in defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau's system.
"I remember when I was with Coach LeBeau in Pittsburgh, and he would always tell us not to turn our back to the ball," said Woodson, an NFL Network analyst. "Well, heck, Troy always turns his back to the ball. I asked Coach, 'Why do you let him do it?' And Coach said, 'Because he can.'

"I think that's an indication of how good he is as an athlete, knowing where he wants to go, and over the years becoming a student of the game. When we first saw Troy come into the league, he was kind of just a kamikaze guy. He was all over the place but wasn't making a whole bunch of plays, he'd miss some tackles. But what he's done the last three years, he's taken his game to the next level."


As wild as he is on the field, Polamalu is remarkably humble and soft-spoken away from it.

"I don't think football comes naturally to me," he said. "I'm not like [Baltimore linebacker] Ray Lewis that can go out there and say, 'I'm the beast of the field. I own this field.' I'm more or less fighting out of fear."

That has inspired Polamalu to go to extremes when training in the off-season, including going on long runs in the middle of the night "to get my body used to things it doesn't want to do."

He and his wife are devout Eastern Orthodox Christians, and he weaves his spirituality into every facet of his life. That includes what he calls "spiritual workouts," or pushing himself to the point of total fatigue — then beyond.

For example, he has tested himself at a gym near his La Jolla home by turning a treadmill up to maximum speed, then sprinting on it as long as he possibly can until collapsing off it in a heap.

"You're pushing yourself beyond a limit where it stops working on you physically, and it starts working on your spirit," he said.

"As an athlete, if you're able to push yourself to those limits, it can give you a certain confidence. That doesn't come out of pride or ego, it comes out of humility.

"I know this guy's pushing himself hard. I know he works out eight hours a day. So I have to do something more than him in order to compete."

Full Article

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Sua's Humility, Talent Bring Sweet Music To Kaimuki

When the helmet and pads are off, Chester Sua can hear the music again.

It's not just the Lil Wayne riffs that filter into his ears. When all's said and done, he transports himself back to a small place on a small island that was once home.

He can hear the a capella of a choir, hymns locked in his heart and memories. He made the voyage from Sailele, American Samoa, just two years ago, but there's no choir for him on Sundays now.

Instead, he churns out his own music on the football field. He makes cutbacks that leave off-balance defenders grasping, resulting in ridiculously balletic excursions to the end zone. When necessary, he cradles the football with two hands and steamrolls unsuspecting foes with his 6-foot-1 1/2 , 208-pound frame for extra yardage, then helps his tacklers up.

There's more than one reason why the Kaimuki Bulldogs -- just 34 players strong -- have racked up eight wins in eight Oahu Interscholastic Association White Conference football games, but Sua is clearly a force of nature. He has lined up as a running back, slotback, wide receiver, safety, linebacker and kick returner.

"The sky's the limit for Chester. He's real driven," said Kaimuki coach Clint Onigama, who has also taught Sua in his Algebra II class.

Sua has also gotten reps at quarterback during practice, but it's far from overload. You won't hear him complain, even in the process of being one of Hawaii's top prospects.

If there's one fact of life that's constant for Sua, it's respect. He might not want to hear your recruiting pitch linger for 1 minute, 5 minutes, 30 minutes ... but he'll nod and take it. He doesn't want to hear about his accomplishments when there are teammates whose blocks made his touchdown happen.

There's a politeness that comes with being raised in Samoa. It's power through kindness.

It's also mandatory ... "or else you'll get lickens," he says with a big grin.

Tumama and Polini Sua's family -- there are seven siblings -- had moved to the Bay Area, and then Las Vegas years ago. One brother, however, was in Hawaii, and though Sua was a very good student at Faagaitua High School, it was time for a change.

He moved in with Naff and his wife, and thus began life in a whole new world, a place where he saw classmates and new friends with a different way of looking at life. One of those people was Mason Kualii-Moe, who wound up playing football and basketball with Sua last year.

They're a year apart and almost brothers. When Sua says he'd like to coach one day, Kualii-Moe doesn't even flinch. That day is well off in the horizon, but they share the same calm disposition. Both advise younger players to work hard and steer away from drugs. It'll be surprising if they aren't on the same staff one day.
Until then, Sua tends to business -- a 3.2 grade-point average. The senior has rushed for 956 yards (6.5 per attempt) and 12 touchdowns, and caught seven more balls for 98 yards and three scores while manning the secondary full-time as a safety. His biggest performance came in a 27-21 win over conference rival Waipahu, scoring all four of his team's touchdowns, including an 88-yard kick return to start the game. He ended the night by picking off Waipahu's Hail Mary pass in the end zone.

Sua and Kualii-Moe were best friends before they became statistical leaders on the field. Kualii-Moe, a junior, leads the Bulldogs with 21 receptions for 352 yards and four touchdowns.

To hang out with his pal on a quiet Sunday, Sua gets a ride from his brother to the other side of the Koolaus. Kualii-Moe, whose family has moved a time or two, lives in Kaneohe just a short walk from a string of fast-food joints. This is where best friends can chill.

SUA HIT THE WEIGHT room with a fury in the offseason, ran on the field almost every day. By spring, Division I college recruiters were wearing out the old asphalt road leading into Kaimuki's athletic department. Coaches from four, sometimes five schools per day visited.

Sua hoped to end speculation and all the on-campus visits by committing to Washington State over the summer.

"He wants to go somewhere where the distractions will be at a minimum," Onigama said.

Kaimuki is one win away from a state-tournament berth. They need to get past Pearl City in the opening round of the OIA White playoffs this weekend to seal a spot. A loss means an unbeaten regular season will have gone for naught.

Sua and his teammates are prepared in every way.

"Be humble. Focused," he said. "We set our goals before the season starts. One goal: a championship."

The sound of it makes Sua smile. It's almost music to his ears.

Full Article

Monday, October 18, 2010

Warriors' Win Boosts Team Confidence

There was one thing that kept Hawaii defensive tackle Kaniela Tuipulotu from racing home Saturday night to watch the pay-per-view replay of the Warriors' 27-21 upset of Nevada.

"I don't have cable," Tuipulotu said. "I'm just a college student."

Instead, he will wait until today's defensive meetings to watch the video of the game.

"It's better to watch it with teammates," he said.

Tuipulotu exemplifies a football team that remains grounded while seeking respect. Even after defeating Nevada, which entered 6-0 and ranked 19th, and even after earning the 29th-most points in yesterday's Associated Press poll, the Warriors still want to be categorized in the underdog breed.

"You can tell (Nevada) underestimated us," Tuipulotu said. "That's what happens when you don't take your opponent seriously. We respect everyone because we know to everyone else -- other teams, the WAC -- they think we suck. We don't take anyone lightly. Every game, for us, is like the USC game."

Cornerback Jeramy Bryant said the Nevada game, during which the Warriors contained quarterback Colin Kaepernick and running back Vai Taua, was a "confidence booster."

"It was good to know we could play with teams like that, and not only play with them, but beat them," Bryant said. "It took a few games to show the nation we could be pretty good."

Tuipulotu said the Warriors felt "we had something special" back in spring training in April. In February, Nick Rolovich and Dave Aranda were promoted to offensive and defensive coordinators.

"We worked really hard in the spring," safety Mana Silva said.

Back then, Bryant said, the coaches would show videos of their practices, emphasizing how the schemes would be productive.

"From the spring, we knew we had a special team," Bryant said. "We worked hard, and the coaches kept preaching how we could be good."

Defensively, Aranda said the Warriors' multiple schemes would produce turnovers. But in the first three games, the Warriors had no interceptions.

On Saturday, the Warriors intercepted Kaepernick twice, giving them 10 picks in the past four games.

"Sure enough," Bryant said, "the turnovers started to come. We believed we could do those type of turnovers. We believe in ourselves."

Silva said the goal is to win the WAC title and qualify for a bowl game. The Warriors are atop the WAC with a 3-0 record. At 5-2, they need to win two of their remaining six regular-season games for a winning record and the accompanying berth in the Hawaii Bowl.

"We have to continue to improve overall, and hopefully things will fall into place," Silva said.

Full Article

Friday, October 15, 2010

Arizona Cardinals' Deuce Lutui Sees His Stock Rising

Deuce Lutui has a reputation. He talks smack. He gets his hands dirty.

He'll hit you in the mouth, and then pat himself on the back.

"The physical part of the game is mine," he said.

After summering in Ken Whisenhunt's doghouse, Lutui has found his juju, and has quickly re-established his place in the room. He's the best offensive lineman on the Cardinals, and should be next on the list of contract extensions. Guys like Lutui - characters obsessed with their own character - are hard to find in the NFL.

"I know what I'm all about," Lutui said. "Deuce Lutui is about integrity. A competitor. A Tongan."

As you'll discover, his heritage is very important.

Technically, Lutui is homegrown, a huge kid known as "Titus" when he attended Mesa High School. He is also from Tonga, the only island nation in the South Pacific never brought under foreign rule, a place where the people come super-sized and men can carry their weight in stone.

At the mere mention of these proud people, Lutui becomes swollen with pride. And in a display of Tongan fury, he reaches to his right, picks up a neighboring stool and flings it across the locker room.

The chair tumbles to a harmless stop. A teammate begins howling with laughter.

"The history of Tongan people, we were warriors!" Lutui continues. "We were the Vikings of the South Pacific, the pearl of Polynesia. I come from the Kingdom of Tonga! That means, when I'm Tongan to the 'T,' I'm Tongan to the death! I'm a Lutui, and I come from a tiny nation, a dot in the middle of the map. Even if you look, you might miss it."

Lutui could be a professional wrestler, and in some ways, he already is. He is comical and self-inflated. He knows all the little tricks and will fight to the echo of the whistle, all day long. Mostly, he makes his teammates smile.

"Deuce, you're playing like this because you want a new contract right?" teases wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, who has wandered over for a visit. "Is that what this is all about?"

Fitzgerald bounces away laughing.

"Man, I want to kick his ass," Lutui said.Lutui has made big strides in recent months, after tipping the scales at 396 pounds. Back then, he was unhappy with his tendered offer from the Cardinals, a one-year contract worth $1.7 million. After the team signed two other guards - Rex Hadnot and Alan Faneca - Lutui wondered why he couldn't get a long-term deal. Friends also say he endured a rough offseason, reeling emotionally from the death of his father.

"It was definitely on my mind," Lutui said.

By the time he arrived in Flagstaff, Big Deuce was on tenuous ground. But he began to shed the weight. He did the job, and regained his job. Through five games, Lutui has played hard and well, avoiding all the unnecessary penalty flags he frequently earned for delivering the last shot. And if you listen carefully, no one is mentioning the weight thing anymore.

At least until Lutui stepped on poor Max Hall's foot during Sunday's win over the Saints, forcing the young quarterback to wince in pain. Up in the broadcast booth, Kurt Warner actually grimaced on the air, having experienced such trauma firsthand.

"Deucey, he's a big guy. I think he weighs 450 pounds," Hall cracked. "He got me pretty good, so that one hurt. I try not to show pain, but that one took me a second."

Hall shook it off. And as we've all discovered, you just can't stay mad at Lutui.

"I've handled the distractions, and my stock is escalating," Lutui said. "I've got a master Jedi in a coach, and I'm a young Luke Skywalker. Russ Grimm is Master Yoda, and I will be a Jedi. I will be a Jedi knight one day, and I will get light saber."

With a serious face, Lutui holds the imaginary weapon over his shoulder, as if he's ready to take on Darth Vader.

"And then I'm slicing," he said.

A Jedi Tongan with a mean streak? You better run, son.

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Thursday, October 14, 2010

Taumoepeau Has Amazing Visit To ISU

Cerritos (CA) College defensive lineman Walton Taumoepeau’s visit to Iowa State this past weekend could not have gone any better.

“Everything was perfect and I really enjoyed it a lot,” said Taumoepeau. “It really cemented the fact that Iowa State is definitely the number one school that I think I will be going to. They need in help in the middle of their defensive line and we talked about me coming in and making an impact right away.”
The 6-foot-4, 295-pound defensive tackle has an offer from Iowa State but is also hearing from Washington, FIU, and Oregon State.

He told Cyclone Sports Report that while Iowa State is his clear favorite that he does not plan on making any decisions right away.

“I really like them now but I might want to take a few more visits,” said Taumoepeau. “I will probably make my decision by the end of the season.”

Walton feels that many things stuck out to as why he is so high on Iowa State.

“I really like the academic situation there and that fact that they have such a high graduation rate for their football players,” he said. “It really shows they care about you and that they really want you to graduate from college. I also like the environment because it’s different from what I am used to and the support they get from the fans is amazing.”

Walton also enjoyed getting to know Iowa State head coach Paul Rhoads.

“He keeps things real and you can tell that he really cares a lot about his players,” said Taumoepeau. “We got to talk one-on-one and he told me how much he really needs a big defensive tackle for next year’s team. He sees me as a run stopper and likes how I can hold up the middle of the line.”

Walton will be graduating this fall and is attending to be a part of spring practice at the school that he chooses during the next month or two.

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Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Fa’a Samoa-The Mageo Way

In September on CBS's 60 Minutes, correspondent Scott Pelley presented a report, American Samoa: Football Island.  Pelley reported that 30 NFL players and over 200 Division-I players are of Samoan descent. N.C. State senior starting defensive tackle Natanu Mageo is one of those players. 
Raised in Pago-Pago, Mageo started playing football in high school.  There were no youth football programs in Samoa until this past year.  Mageo like other boys grew up playing rugby but could not wait to play football. 
"I always loved football and couldn't wait to get to put on the pads," Mageo said.  "Its part of our culture, everybody wants to play football back home."
In Pelley's 60 Minutes report, he travels to American Samoa and visits with the football teams. On his visit he notices big differences in the conditions in which they played and practiced that spoke to a toughness and passion for the game.  Teams did not have nice fields but dirt and rocks, teams did not all have pads and had to share the old beaten up ones that they did have.  
"We had to share our pads and helmets with the JV team," Mageo said. "For the practices Varsity would get the pads on Mondays and Tuesdays and JV would get the pads on Wednesdays.  They played their games of Thursday and Fridays and we played on Saturdays."
Like many impoverished societies, there are few ways to be successful in American Samoa.  It was planned throughout grade school to either try to go to the states to go to college, or to join the military.  Football became another part of the plan in recent years. 
"You look forward to it, you were expecting to leave the island. Most people go to college or join the military," Mageo said.  "Plan B for me was to go to college and play football. To go to the military was supposed to be Plan A but Plan B presented itself, so I took it."
At the time the only film of games were at the Samoan All-Star game and the Samoa Bowl, played against Hawaii.  With the game footage from these games, Mageo was recruited and given a partial scholarship to play for New Mexico Military Junior College.  After two seasons playing there, Mageo began getting recruited by Division-I schools all over the nation.
Recruiting Coordinator and Special teams coach Jerry Petercuskie travelled to Roswell, N.M. to visit with Mageo.  
"We were looking for an older defensive tackle so I started looking at junior colleges and decided to go check him out," Petercuskie said.  "We aren't going to bring in a player without finding out if they can play, if they are smart, if they are hard working and if they are a good person, Natanu was that and more."
Mageo has had to face many differences in his life here outside of football, experiencing a kind of culture shock being 6,900 miles from home.  
"In our culture, everyone is real respectful to others, it's a whole different world," said Mageo.  "Back home you can rely on each other and be more open with people but over here you have to rely more on yourself and that's how you survive."  
Mageo also had never spoken fluent English.  Growing up he learned English in class but spoke Samoan outside of it and in New Mexico there were other Samoans who he could communicate with.  At State he has had to adjust to a lack of that communication.  
"Its difficult because I think Samoan.  When someone speaks to me it gets translated into Samoan in my head and I have to think before I reply in Samoan," Mageo said.  "I adjusted by not being able to speak Samoan to anybody." 
The only time Mageo speaks Samoan now is once a week during his calls home.  Mageo's last time home was during the break between the holiday break last year.  Visiting right after the largest earthquake of the year hit and caused a tsunami that devastated American Samoa, just two months before. 
"It was right after practice and I had a lot of text messages telling me to call home and asking how my family was doing.   So I ran to the training room and had them turn to the news," Mageo said. "I had never been worried in my life before then.  I thought it was the safest place ever but when I talked to my cousins they said that's where the tsunami hit the worst, in my hometown.
"The next day I got a call from my auntie and she said my family was ok but at the same time a lot of people still died.  It was a hard time and when those kinds of things happen, the only thing you wish for is to be with your family. All I could do was hope and pray for the best."
A major focus in the Pelley piece is in regard to the tough nature and strong culture of the Samoan people.  In his report he interviews Troy Polamalu, perennial Pro-Bowler and Super Bowl winning safety for the Pittsburg Steelers, who is of Samoan descent.  Polamalu spoke of Fa'a Samoa, translated "The Samoan Way."
"It is Samoan culture, Samoan tradition," said Mageo.  "The Samoan mentality is that you are supposed to be tough."  It's not only people's expectations but it's my mentality when I play because that's how I was brought up." 
A criminology major due to graduate this May, Mageo carries Fa'a Samoa with him off the field as well, hoping his education here at State will not only provide him with a chance to play football, but also give him a valuable education that hopefully leads him to a job.  
"I'm trying to get my degree and do something with it," Mageo said.  

Worth More Than A Super Bowl

Years ago on the island of Pago Pago, a little boy by the name of Shaun Nua trekked through the fern, banyan and Aoa tree-filled tropical rain forest of Samoa with his father and uncle while hunting wild pigs for their family dinner. Years later, this same boy would leave the jungles of his homeland and strap on a helmet and wear the blue and white of BYU, changing his life forever.

It was a day Shaun Nua will never forget. As a young boy, he and his uncle used a rope to catch the back leg of a frantic wild boar. Scared and in panic of what was to come, Nua knew the pig had to be restrained before being killed. Hearing the commands from his uncle, Nua was hesitant but wanted to be obedient and not disappoint. Unfortunately before he could reach the pig, it loosened its bond and ran screaming straight towards a paralyzed Shaun Nua standing with eyes wide open. With a hard thud, Nua was knocked backwards to the ground and began to cry. It was a long time from that day to the day he put on a football helmet with a Y logo on the side.
"No, I never dreamed I would be where I am now," said Nua with a large smile on his face. “I was just a little kid from the islands and never dreamed that I would one day play football over here at BYU. My passion for football brought me here to BYU and it's since taken me to other places."

After spending three years at BYU as a defensive lineman, Nua was drafted in the seventh round by the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2005. While suited up as an NFL player, he reached the pinnacle of what he believed life could afford.

"Here I am a kid from Samoa playing in the biggest football arena in the world,” said Nua, who spent three years with the Steelers. “I was living what I thought was my dream."

During his rookie year, Nua would be part of a team that beat the Seattle Seahawks to win the Super Bowl.

"I had reached my final goal," said Nua. "I won a Super Bowl my rookie year and thought, 'Man, is this it?' It wasn't what I thought it would be when I was a kid. I mean, I was on the field and on the sidelines as an NFL player and we won a Super Bowl. It just wasn't what I thought. When it was all said and done, it really helped me to see what BYU was really all about."

Growing up on the island of Samoan, Nua and his family didn't have much and lived off the land like most Polynesians do. After a three-year stint in the NFL and a Super Bowl victory, the dream Nua once had was non-fulfilling and unsatisfying.

"I learned that money will not make you happy, that fame is overrated and it makes you forget who you are and where you come from," said Nua with a serious tone. "It made me realize that there was something more valuable out there than fame, money and football. Man, it made me think and finally realize all those things that Bronco Mendenhall had been teaching me when I was a player at BYU. It finally all came together."

In time Nua would eventually make his way back to BYU as a general assistant coaching on the offensive side of the ball. He was switched back to defense after Coach Hill was fired after the fifth game of the 2010 season. Nua is happy he is back on the defensive side of the ball, where he can now coach a team he once played for and loves.

"I learned a lot from Coach Anae and Coach Weber, but man, now I feel like I'm back home coaching on defense," Nua said. "I'm happy I'm back. Now it's basically kicking this defense's butt every day and trying to help out the d-line with the knowledge I gained from Pittsburgh. I'll help Bronco and Coach Kaufusi with the nose tackles and d-ends. We have good kids and I love these kids. They're learning just like I did when I played here."

While on the Steelers, Nua was learning and competing in football at a higher level. He was a professional playing among and against some of the best talent around. His position coach John Mitchell had 18 years of NFL experience, ranking him the longest-tenured member of the Steelers coaching staff. During his time with the Steelers he learned a lot, and has carried that knowledge with him.

"[The Steelers] run a 3-4 defense and BYU runs a 3-4 defense,” said Nua. “It really gave me a lot of knowledge on how things should look and how things should be done. Man, I learned a lot and Pittsburgh would be the first to tell you that they don't have all the answers to shutting down offenses, but there is hard work and fundamentals and that's what BYU is trying to do. With the knowledge that I gained there, it will help me here and hopefully we can go forward. I think it's a big advantage on my part and now I just have to take advantage of that and be unselfish with that and pass it on."

When Nua returned to BYU to coach as a G.A., his path would take another unexpected turn. On September 29 this year, Nua entered the waters of baptism and joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

"It's been nine years since the time I first stepped foot on campus to the day I got baptized," said Nua. "What influenced me was I wanted to be happy. When I left for the NFL, I was happy but I wasn't completely happy. Something was missing inside. I'm not bashing on any other church and think all other churches are good, but I just felt peace and happiness in this church. It took a long time, and it wasn't like I wasn't happy with my old church – I just felt more comfortable with this church and I believe in it. When I finally investigated the Church on my own, I realized things were different and saw for myself the fullness. Before I wasn't complete and right now this is the most complete I've ever been.

"When I first came here to BYU, I came here for football, but what I found was something bigger. My path is kind of funny and I definitely found something bigger than just football through BYU. Now I'm coaching here and I love being around these kids. One day I would like to take everything I've gained from this experience and go back home to Samoa someday and help the little kids live the dream I once had."
While playing for the Cougars, Nua grew very close to Jim Hamblin, a staff member at the Student Athlete Academic Center. After deciding to join the Church, Nua asked Hamblin to perform the baptism.

"Hamblin and I've been friends since I was here," Nua said. "If you go to his office and sit there the whole day, it's like a therapy session. You'll see members of the Church, non-members, white people, black people, Tongans, Samoans, Fijians, and all kinds of people will be in his office. He never forced me to become a member, but if I had a question he would answer it. He's a good friend and a good person and when I asked him to baptize me, he answered the call. He's a great-hearted guy and helps out all the kids from all sports. I wouldn't have wanted anybody else to baptize me."

Nua also chose to have others that influenced him at BYU participate at his baptism.

"Coach Reynolds gave me the gift of the Holy Ghost," Nua said. "He's another special man and a great influence. With Coach Tidwell, it was kind of a last-minute thing, and I was thinking, ‘Who better to give the talk on [baptism] than the person that brought me here?’ Coach Tidwell is the one that found me and recruited me, and so I picked him to give the talk on baptism. He's a great man and it's really because of him that I'm even here."

Meanwhile, Nua chose to have Kelly Poppinga give the talk on the Holy Ghost at his baptism.

"Kelly Poppinga is another person that I worked with and answered a lot of my questions," Nua said. "Last year when I was a G.A., we both would stay up late talking. We would get up early and talk some more. I had so many questions and he became a close friend of mine is one of the best friends I've ever had."

Many of Nua’s family members and friends went to his baptism. BYU president Cecil O. Samuelson was even in attendance.

"I didn't think there was going to be that many people there because it was such short notice," said Nua. "My parents made it here from back home in Samoa, and there were just a lot of people that was there. It was better than winning the Super Bowl. I was happy and I was on cloud nine and it's hard to explain. I wouldn't trade it for any Super Bowl ring and would give it away in a heartbeat to find what I've found.

"In fact, I did give my Super Bowl ring away to my dad the first day I got it," continued Nua. "I really don't care about things like that and would never trade this experience at BYU and joining the Church for anything in the world. A Super Bowl and a ring is something you can give away, but this experience is something you just can't trade for anything. There is no comparison between being baptized into the Church and winning the Super Bowl. I wouldn't trade being baptized for any Super Bowl ring. I'm really happy now. There is not even any comparison to finding the true religion. There is nothing even better than that." 

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Sunday, October 10, 2010

Malcom Floyd Erupts For 213 yards, TD In Loss

Malcom Floyd caught eight passes for 213 yards with a touchdown in Sunday's loss to the Raiders.

Floyd continues to fit perfectly as the deep threat complement to Antonio Gates in the Chargers' vertical attack. He took advantage of some woeful blown coverage by the Raiders today, but also showed an ability to make tough catches in traffic. It's a career game for Floyd and he gets another great matchup with the Rams next week. Floyd is an ideal WR3 with tons of breakout upside.

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Saturday, October 9, 2010

Strong Relationships Remind Quarterback Of Home

The distance between Gardena, Calif., and Athens is 2,334 miles. For Boo Jackson, a few old friends and some new teammates made the gap much more manageable.

Ohio's redshirt-senior quarterback came to the Bobcats after two years at El Camino College with his teammate and fellow redshirt-senior, Hilton Dawson III.

When preparing to move to Ohio, Jackson heard that Patrick Tafua, a junior-college player at Golden West College in California, also planned to join the Bobcats.

"We played against each other," Jackson joked. "I threw a couple touchdown passes on him."

Jackson sent Tafua a message on Facebook, and the trio planned to fly to Ohio together.

"Ever since we got here, we've been close," Jackson said of recently graduated Tafua and Dawson. "All of us are family-oriented. We love our family. We want to be as close to our family as possible."

But going to school on the opposite side of the country made that unfeasible. The trio stuck together for the most part, which helped ease the transition to the Midwest.

Tafua and Jackson hit it off almost immediately because of their similar heritage.

"Boo is half-Hawaiian, and me being Samoan and just having the Polynesian kind of mentality. All of the Polynesians, whether you're from Hawaii or Samoa or wherever, you're family," Tafua said. "Family is the biggest thing, in that sense in that common respect we have for each other."

But Jackson and Tafua both said it didn't take long to make friends in Athens.

"The people here are so friendly," Jackson said. "They just came up to me and went, 'Oh! You're the new quarterback.'"

Jackson said he missed his family, but making new friends and getting close to his teammates helped him cope with his relatives not being able to watch him play every weekend.

"We get four tickets a game, and I have to give them away," Jackson said. "It's kind of difficult at times, but we know we made the right decision."

Jackson's mother, brother, sister, brother-in-law and niece all attended the Marshall and Ohio State games this season, the first time they saw Jackson play since 2008.

"It was tremendous for me," Jackson said. "It's not a five-hour drive (for them to get to games), it's a five-hour plane ride, so it's kind of difficult."

Despite the close family relationship, Jackson defied his mother's wishes when it came to something that had been a signature of his for a long time: his hair.

Since he arrived in Athens, Jackson gained notice off the field for two reasons: his easy-going attitude and long, frizzy locks. In 2008, he decided to cut it off while his mother was in town.

"I've had long hair since before I came here," Jackson said. "It's kind of like a Polynesian thing."

Jackson's mother was cooking dinner when Tafua reached for the hair clippers. By the time the quarterback's hair was gone, his mother had angrily walked away.

"She stopped making dinner and went to sleep. I was like, 'Okay, I'll finish,'" Jackson joked. "She loves my long hair. It was difficult for her to watch."

The quarterback said he cut it because he didn't enjoy the recognition he received when walking around campus.

In his first game after the trim, Jackson threw for five touchdowns against Akron, making him think short hair was a good omen. But a season-ending shoulder injury at the beginning of 2009 made the quarterback jokingly rethink it.

Now in his final year of eligibility, Jackson has started Ohio's last two games, throwing for 373 yards and three touchdowns.

He said that, no matter where he ends up, Athens will always remind him of home.

"Where I grew up is exactly like this," he said. "It's a small town surrounded by a high school, college town. All we had was a Walmart and a movie theater.

"It actually makes me appreciate this place more."

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Friday, October 8, 2010

Beaver From Tonga Learning On The Fly

As a boy in Tonga, Stephen Paea figured he had two choices.

"Everybody's got to play rugby," he said. "Either that, or you cook for the rugby team."

More comfortable on the pitch than in a kitchen, Paea took up the sport. He hoped it would make him famous in the rugby-crazy country.

His mother was traveling in New Zealand when he was born, but Paea (pronounced PIE-yuh) was raised on Vava'u, a chain of 41 islands in the 169-island Tongan archipelago.

That's a long way from Corvallis, Ore., where Oregon State's senior defensive tackle is competing for All-America honors after deciding not to leave early for the NFL draft.

The Beavers play at Arizona Stadium on Saturday.

As a boy, Paea knew of American football only from the "Madden" video games - and even then, he joked, the graphics were fuzzy.

He moved to Los Altos, Calif., with his family at 16. He learned English, and didn't play a down of football until his senior year of high school.

He lined up at offensive guard and defensive tackle, but didn't know what he was doing.

"My job was easy," he said. "To protect the quarterback, and to get after the quarterback."

He was promising enough to play at powerful Snow College, redshirting in 2006 and playing for an 11-1 team in 2007.

When he set foot at Oregon State, lured by other Polynesian players, Paea had played three years of football - and only two years' worth of game experience.

Even now, he is in the midst of his fifth-ever season of games.

"That's why he's so intriguing as a player," OSU coach Mike Riley said. "To see his physical talent and watch him grow as a player has been a lot of fun."

The 6-foot-1-inch, 311-pounder became a YouTube sensation when video showed him bench-pressing 225 pounds 44 times - and that was when he was tired after a workout.

The NFL combine record is 45 (since 2000).

Paea might be the strongest player, at any position, in the sport. He can squat 600 pounds, bench-press 500 and run a 40-yard dash in 4.8 seconds.

"His strength and quickness are outstanding," Riley said. "He is learning, I think, probably every time he plays."

Paea, who still plays rugby for fun in the off-season, had 11 tackles-for-loss and five sacks as a sophomore in 2008, and 8.5 tackles-for-loss and three sacks last season. He received the Morris Trophy, a Pac-10 defensive award voted on by offensive linemen.

His NFL draft flirtation yielded assurances of a late second- or early third-round selection, but he decided to return for his senior season.

The sociology major can become the first person in his family - he has four siblings, including a twin brother, Will, who played junior college football - to graduate from a four-year college.

"I feel comfortable here," he said, "and had that gut feeling that I'm not ready."

He's become the Pac-10's problem.

UA co-offensive coordinator Bill Bedenbaugh said few opponents dare block Paea with only one player. Paea had his best game Saturday against Arizona State, Bedenbaugh said, when the Beavers sacked Steven Threet six times.

"Even when he wasn't sacking the quarterback, most of those sacks came with him disrupting the pocket," Bedenbaugh said.

Paea can only wonder how good he'd be if football, not rugby, was the sport he had played as a child.

"Oh man," he said. "It would be a different story."

Certainly no different than the story he dreamt as a boy. The goal is still the same, even if the sport is different.

"I had a dream - I thought rugby was going to get me to that," he said. "It's the same thing with football now. It all of a sudden changed. I've been blessed."

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Martinez Making Huskers See, Believe

So, everyone saw that, right?

We saw that blink-of-a first step that started a straight line to the end zone, capped by his appreciative, celebratory point at the band and surrounding fans who made the trip from Lincoln to Manhattan for the last time?

We saw that sprint around the defense, certain that any defender intent on closing off the sideline would get there a few crucial seconds too late?

We saw Taylor Martinez channel T-Magic and silence a sea of purple on the road for the second time in his brief five-start career, beating Kansas State 48-13 in his first conference game, weeks after leading a five-touchdown stomping of Washington in Seattle.
We saw a redshirt freshman tempt us to throw his name in the same sentence with Heisman Trophy.

We ain't seen nothin' yet.

"He made some mistakes, but he did a lot of good things, obviously. He ran for a lot of yards," said coach Bo Pelini.

More yards, in fact, than any quarterback in the long history of Nebraska football. This isn't the old-school option attack the corn-fed Nebraskans grew up watching, but they'll gladly take it.

Martinez's 241 rushing yards stated loudly, to everyone watching inside the stadium and on the national telecast, that any team who beats Nebraska will have to beat him first. And if they do, they'll have to deal with his two friends, running backs Rex Burkhead and Roy Helu, who combined to run for 167 more yards on 19 carries, an average of almost 9 yards a carry. With apologies to Oregon, there might not be a rushing attack in college football more difficult to defend.

The defenses will get better than Kansas State, who entered Thursday night's game as the Big 12's worst run defense and outside the top 100 nationally. But Nebraska's got a pretty good one, and they held Daniel Thomas, the Big 12's leading rusher, to just 63 yards on 22 carries, almost 100 yards below his average of 157 a game.

But those same Blackshirts hate seeing Martinez every day as much as Kansas State did on Thursday, and the Wildcats only had to fail at catching him for a little more than three quarters.

"It's frustrating," said Nebraska linebacker Alonzo Whaley. "You never know what to expect from him. What you saw out here today, we've seen all camp. It's good to see him execute, and it's really confusing. It bothers us a lot. It bothers the defense when there's somebody so explosive."

The toughest part of defending Martinez is what Kansas State learned very quickly on Thursday night, and what every defense the rest of the year will have to compensate for better than the Wildcats.

"The hardest part is knowing he can outrun you," Whaley said.

Get used to it. And that goes for almost everyone. Martinez says he ran a "low 4.4" 40-time as a junior in high school and hasn't been clocked since. True or not, you won't hear any arguments from Manhattan for awhile.

And that blur we saw cross the goal line four times will get better fast, making more opponents resort to Kansas State's most-often used defensive strategy in the lopsided loss: the cuss and chase. (Not allowed at Kansas.)

"He's not a done project. Everybody's got to remember, he's a redshirt freshman. He's got a lot of work to do, but the thing about this kid is he's a fierce competitor. He doesn't say a lot because he strives for perfection in everything he does," said offensive coordinator Shawn Watson. "He's really easy to motivate in that aspect because he wants to be a great player. He wants to be the best."
Pretty soon, he might be.

We saw that half step Kansas State got on Martinez's 79-yard touchdown pass to Kyler Reed in the third quarter. It stretched the lead to a comical 38-6 after a hard-earned field goal from the Wildcats.

Martinez might not be handing out those half steps to defenses for much longer.

"Honestly, because of the way these games have evolved, you haven't seen him as a passer. He's a really good passer," Watson said. "He's got passing talent. We haven't thrown it that much."

Just seven times on Thursday and 64 times in five games. And why would they? Kansas State would have liked nothing more.

When the season began, Nebraska had a quarterback controversy. Or at least claimed to have one, with Pelini insisting Martinez and his backups were "close" before fall camp began. Here's guessing it wasn't much of a controversy very long in the coaches' meetings. After Martinez's debut in the season opener, Watson admitted that his status as the team's starting quarterback was "clear" by the end of fall camp.

Ya don't say.

He looks ready to hit that lengthy stride plenty more times and take Nebraska on a ride in its final season in the Big 12. After Thursday night, the path looks clear: a date with the Sooners for a storybook Big 12 title game between the Big 12's only two teams currently in the top 10.

Getting there will be fun. It might come with a few bumps in the road, like the mistake-filled performance against South Dakota State a week ago that Watson said left Martinez feeling "insulted," both by his own performance and the coaches' decision to pull him late in the game.

But performances like those fuel performances like this, when his fifth touchdown of the night sent fans to the exits with just over 12 minutes left to play.

Martinez won't talk about it now, but plenty of schools in the Pac-10 saw the Corona, Calif., native long before Thursday night, when the rest of America caught up. They didn't see their future starting quarterback.

Understatement perhaps, but...bad move.

After Thursday's win, all Nebraska is left looking for is Martinez's ceiling.

"We'll see," Watson said. "The kid's been amazing."

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Thursday, October 7, 2010

The "Taua of Powa" Runs Over UNLV

It was a big night for Nevada's Vai Taua as the Wolf Pack (5-0) beat UNLV 44-28 and remained undefeated and in the Top 25. The "Taua of Powa" rushed for three touchdowns and caught a pass for a fourth as the Wolf Pack rolled up 516 total yards, 374 on the ground. QB Colin Kaepernick had 97 yards rushing and 124 yards passing with one touchdown in the air and another on the ground.

Most importantly, Kaepernick now has 48 rushing touchdowns and, with eight remaining regular season games, needs only 11 more touchdowns to tie the all-time NCAA record for rushing touchdowns by a quarterback. He has already surpassed Tim Tebow's career rushing yardage mark.

UNLV managed only 80 yards on the ground but had nearly 300 yards of total offense as their quarterback Omar Clayton proved to be elusive, accurate, and very fast.

Nevada retained possession of the precious Fremont Canon, the heaviest and most expensive "trophy" in college football.

In a moment of some concern, UNLV player Michael Johnson appeared to have been knocked out briefly after a massive hit by Nevada linebacker James Michael Johnson that forced a fumble. In a remarkable display of courtesy and good sportsmanship, the Nevada player took a knee just yards from the injured UNLV player and just feet from the Rebel bench. Given the intense rivalry between the teams, this display of good sportsmanship was praiseworthy. Fortunately, the UNLV player was not seriously injured and able to return to play.

The Nevada Wolf Pack, keeping pace with the undefeated Boise State Broncos, now moves on to conference play and will face San Jose State in Reno next week. If both Nevada and Boise State remain undefeated, this will set up what would surely be one of the best games of the entire college football season in Reno on November 26.

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Any Samoans In The House?

If so, please make Natanu Mageo your Facebook friend.

Mageo is on N.C. State's football team. It is particularly rare to have a Samoan football player on the East Coast. Most of 'em, and there's a bunch, play for West Coast schools. Hailing from Pago Pago in American Samoa (hope you caught the 60 Minutes piece on Samoan players defying the odds and making it to the NFL), Mageo was told by his father that maybe he should pick a West Coast school when he was ready to transfer from a New Mexico junior college.

But Natanu chose N.C. State.

"The biggest adjustment, I think, is talking so much English," Mageo said. "I never spoke English so much until I got here to Raleigh."

The Wolfpack player said he searches relentlessly for Samoans in the Raleigh area in order to talk about home but hasn't found a single one.

"I haven't seen one Samoan in Raleigh," Natanu  said. "I even tried to look them up on Facebook."

Any Samoans out there?

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