Coach Kaufusi expressed confidence in Ezekiel Ansah’s ability to get the job done. Given the fact that his role within the Cougar defense has expanded over the season, it’s easy to see why.
“Yeah, I have confidence in Ziggy to step right in and fill that spot, you know, now that Eathyn [Manumaleuna] won’t be playing for the rest of this season,” said Coach Kaufusi. “We’re going to miss Eathyn, but I have a lot of confidence that Ziggy can get the job done.”
“It’s really hard man, losing two really good football players like Ian [Dulan] and Eathyn,” Ansah said. “They’re two people that I really look up to and I just really wish the best for them. They’re not here now and it’s my turn to really step up and watch extra film and continue to try and be better. I just have to go from here and keep going up.”
One can expect that Ansah will retain his role on special teams and in the nickel defensive package, but his role as an outside linebacker will more than likely be diminish.
“There’s a point where I have to now forget about being an outside linebacker,” Ansah said with a laugh. “Now it’s just about being full-on d-line. I’ve been getting more reps at practice and that’s been helpful. I’ve been watching the technique from those good players, like Ian and Eathyn that we will miss, and putting that into my own game. I’ve been watching more film too and that’s been helpful.”
During the Boise State game, Ansah shined brightly among a talented defense and even made a crucial play on special teams by stopping a fake punt attempt. He’s shown that he can be reliable and play with discipline despite his relative lack of football experience.
“I didn’t know my stats until they were put up by coach at the end of the game,” said Ansah with a smile. “Coach Kaufusi came up to me and say, ‘Hey, you did good and you had eight tackles and a sack,’ and I said, ‘I think I did good too!’ This is just a performance that I have to enjoy at this moment, and then put it behind me and get ready for the next opponent.”
Six of Ansah’s eight tackles against Boise State were solo tackles, and he had 2.5 tackles for a loss and one pass breakup. His sack was also the first sack of his career.
“Things are coming more easier for me,” Ansah said. “I’ve put in a lot more film work and preparation, so I think that might be why. It’s a lot different being physical than just being an athlete, but I’m getting there. I think this is also where I’m improving and I understand the physical side of the game more.”
Up next for Ansah and the Cougar defense is the offense of Hawaii. Hawaii’s left guard Kapua Sai and offensive tackle Blake Muir will have their hands full when they line up across from Ansah and Kyle Van Noy.
“They’re pretty decent and their offensive line is nothing special,” said Ansah. “I’ve seen some film on their offense and I think we’ll be fine going against them. It’s an offense that we can stop and I’ll be ready for them.”
“Ziggy is going to be fine and I’m excited for him,” said Van Noy. “He’s been making plays and doing some good things out there. It’s too bad it has to come this way, but Ziggy is going to do some good things out there.”
BYU nose guard Romney Fuga will now be playing next to Ansah and, like Van Noy, expects to see more great plays from him this Friday and throughout the season.
“Yeah, Ziggy, he’s good and everyone knows he’s a freak of nature,” said Fuga. “You’re going to see some good plays from Ziggy all season. It’s unfortunate what happened to Eathyn, but as a d-line we’ll get it together.”