BYU’s first day of practice in preparation for the Fight Hunger Bowl was yesterday. After taking some time off following BYU’s 28-23 victory on the road over the Nevada Wolfpack, the Cougars are ready to get to work and prepare to face the Washington Huskies.
“Yeah it feels good,” Fua said. “I mean, I feel fresh out there. I feel a lot rested like the beginning of the season again. It’s nice to be out there running around out there really fast.
Thursday was the first time the entire team took a collective look at Washington to break down personnel groupings and tendencies. Until Thursday, BYU players had been working on getting caught up on school and taking their finals.
“Nothing just getting school done,” Fua said. “[Yesterday] was the first time we look at Washington and practice and just being here. I mean, we’ve been just working on finals and stuff.”
When asked, the one final Fua was most worried about was the one he was scheduled to take this morning. The final was related to an accounting class.
“Accounting, I have accounting [today] at seven in the morning,” Fua said while smiling. “Once I get that over with I’ll be relaxed and worry about the game. I think a lot of the guys finished up [yesterday]. I think I’m one of the last guys.”
In preparation for Washington, BYU will practice six times before they square off in the Fight Hunger Bowl. Fua believes this amount of time, in comparison to the amount of time they’ve had off to rest and work on their education, is enough time to prepare.
“Yeah, I mean, usually we only get five practices (a week) so anything extra is always nice,” Fua said. “Given the circumstances with finals and everything, I mean, it’s the best we can do right now without having everyone failing finals and being ineligible.”
And BYU will need all their pieces on defense when they face a tough Washington Husky team under the tutelage of interim Head Coach Marques Tuiasosopo.
“Yeah, I mean, we know they have a lot of good weapons on offense,” Fua said. “I mean, they’re a good team and we’re going to have to stop their star players. One of them is their running back, their tight end and another is their outside receiver.”
The running back Fua referred to is 5 foot-11 inch, 203-pound Bishop Sankey who was recently named an AP Second Team All-American. The UW tight end is Austin Sefarian-Jenkins, whom BYU had at one time extended a scholarship offer to, as well as wide receiver Kasen Williams, another BYU scholarship offer recipient once upon a time. Fua felt that to come away with a victory over Washington would give the program good momentum heading into the off-season.
“Yeah definitely; I mean, it’s just one of those things where all summer, all winter, and everything, its like, ‘Oh man, we lost our last game,’” said Fua. “That’s one of the things you remember most clearly from the last season, so definitely winning- when you’re tired out there -you kind of remember, ‘Okay we’ve got this. We’re a good team.’”
Coach Mendenhall spoke to the team about this very subject letting his team know how important it is in setting the tone prior to spring camp.
“That’s one of the things Coach Mendenhall was talking about today,” Fua continued. “If we win this game it will give us a lot of momentum and positive vibes going into the off-season to work hard and know that we are a winning team.”
BYU will head out to San Francisco on Sunday to take part in all the pre-game activities happening all week leading up to the contest. There is a special holiday right in the middle of the Cougars visit and that’s Christmas. Many players on BYU’s football team are married and have children. They’ll be spending time together before the bowl game, but the Christmas celebrations just might be a bit muted this year.
“Yeah, I’ve been trying to talk to my family and figure things out, but my grandma lives in Sacramento and that’s usually where we spend Christmas,” said Fua. “It sounds like we’re not able to sleep anywhere or do anything, so we’re still trying to figure everything out. It might be Christmas at the hotel.”
Hopefully the sacrifice of spending Christmas on the road in the hotel brings a happy post-Christmas bowl victory on December 27th for Fua and the rest of the Cougars.