Football fans will be marking their calendars on Sept. 4, the first Saturday of college football, where 53 games are scheduled to begin the 2010 season.
The first set of games however will start on Sept. 2 where 18 games will be played followed by two more games the following day.
A handful of those games will be aired on ESPN during the three-day period, a few of them featuring former Mountie football players. The names are as follows:
VIDEO: (April 1, 2010) Hebron “Loni” Fangupo discusses his return to practice and his marriage.
PHOTO COURTESY OF SHELLY CASTELLANO
POSITION AT MT SAC:
Sept. 2 @ Hawaii – 11:00 EST on ESPN, ESPN3
After breaking his leg in a game against Washington State on Sept. 26 (and seeing the video on how he broke it, ouch), I cringed at how the bone was broken once the X-rays and MRI were revealed. The one thing that I knew about Loni (his nickname) was that he wasn’t going to let this be the end of his football career. He’s been through too much in his young life for it to just stop and that wasn’t going to happen.
According to an article from the OC Register written by Michael Lev in June, USC suffered a blow in their defense when their senior defensive tackle Christian Tupou suffered a season-ending knee injury in a spring game on May 1.
Defensive line coach Ed Orgeron said Fangupo and two of his teammates were needed to step up and make adjustments to fill the void Tupou occupied.
Earlier this year (around May), I met with Fangupo and his girlfriend (now his wife) Rebecca during his off-time discussing plans for his marriage (he asked me to be his photographer for his wedding). Fangupo said his leg was sore but was feeling fine and pretty much on the way in getting back in shape. He said that his mobility was an issue but he was ready and willing to get back to where he needed to be through progressive rehab.
As far as his persona goes, he was the same Loni I knew back when he spent his time at Mt. SAC–happy, cheerful and enjoying life. He still had that distinctive laugh that you would hear every now and then during a conversation. Fangupo has a kind of humor about him that leaves you appreciating him. Aside that, Fangupo has a strong will and knows what he wants and very likely gets what he wants.
With an extra year of eligibility granted stemming from his leg injury last September, Fangupo will be ready to go and ready to pound. During his time playing at Mt. SAC, Fangupo had persevered through most of the season hampered with a shoulder injury that slowed him down before coming to USC. Pain has never been an issue on the field with Fangupo. His heart and determination will completely overshadow that once he steps onto the field.
READ A Q&A ON HEBRON FANGUPO BY CLICKING HERE
PHOTO COURTESY OF LIFE
POSITION AT MT SAC:
Sept. 2 @ Hawaii – 11:00 EST on ESPN, ESPN3
Based on 2009′s statistics, Harfman has fared rather well against opponents in punting and kickoffs.
Opponents have averaged 40.9 yards in punting while Harfman has averaged 39.8. His longest punt was a 59-yard boot–including 4 other kicks that went beyond 50+ yards. Nine of the punts have gone inside the 20-yard line with no blocks recorded.
On kickoffs, Harfman has averaged 65 yards from the distance with 11 touchbacks and two going out of bounds.
Harfman has always been someone who works continuously on mechanics and technique. From his Mt. SAC days, his long distance field goal kicking was always in tact. On most days in practice, I saw him consistently unloading the football through the uprights in the 40-49 yard range without any trouble.
I was rather intrigued by one stat in which Harfman went for a field goal 50+ yards out during a game. I wonder if Coach Kiffin will even look into that at all during this fall. From recent reports, Harfman and Houston have been dueling it out for that job—may the best kicker win.
READ A PREVIOUS ARTICLE ON JACOB HARFMAN BY CLICKING HERE.
VIDEO: The footage shows a handful of plays and moves from Lancer when he was with Mt. SAC in 2007 and 2009 (redshirted in 2008).
PHOTO COURTESY OF ERIC REED - SGVN
University of Hawaii
POSITION AT MT SAC:
Sept. 2 VS USC – 11:00 EST on ESPN, ESPN3
Lancer Tuitele (formerly known as Lancer Iosefa) is a class act. As a person he is very professional, very approachable and respectable a person can be. During our one-on-one conversations, Tuitele has answered all my questions thoroughly and ranked among the few interviewees that made my job rather easy.
His character and his leadership showed last season as he and his brother Burton (who also may be playing for Hawaii) were few of the vocal leaders for the Mounties.
From my observations, I have never ever seen any of the coaches (Jastrab, Craft, Russell or Purcell) mention or instruct anything to the brothers. Tuitele always seemed to know exactly what the next drill was and was a step ahead of almost everyone during the plays. He knew what his role was.
The one thing I found real entertaining during practice drills was his roadrunner-like speed that he displayed during 7-on-7′s or 11-on-11′s bumping into one lineman and then another moving through the pocket bobbing and weaving and clearing aside the opposing secondary out to the open. Tuitele is a passionate person when playing and is a presence as a running back and during warm-up drills. On occasion he is quiet, but also can be vocal and encouraging to his teammates.
In 2007, Kevin Craft and Tom Craft came to Mt. SAC with an offensive game plan. This game plan centralized on executing various pass plays and routes which put some limitation to Tuitele’s abilities. Having played third behind running backs William Woods and Craig Williams, Tuitele managed to lead the backs in touchdowns with 7 that year.
With only 54 carries as opposed to Woods’ 131 and Williams’ 93, Tuitele made it count where it was needed–scoring the touchdown. His best performance came in the second game against Mt. San Jacinto where he went for 6 carries running a total of 88 yards and 2 touchdowns.
The main weapons in the Mountie offense came from the receiving end. Former Utah receiver/special teams Aiona Key had 80 receptions for 1,112 yards and 17 touchdowns while teammate Matt Austin (playing for Utah State) caught 69 passes for 985 yards and 9 touchdowns. The rest of the receiving pack combined for 17 touchdowns–adding that to the totals of Kevin Craft minus the running game.
Had Tuitele been the leading running back, he might’ve recorded more than what he had statistically as he recorded 54 carries with 214 yards.
Aside that, Tuitele was a 3.0 student at Mt. SAC. The off-time that he spent on 2008 allowed him to concentrate on his studies and his work. This proved well academically as he was able to focus in more on his playing time the following year which led him to obtaining a state and national championship before leaving Mt. SAC.
Before the 2009 season, Craft wanted to devise a special running game that combined with the various passing plays. He wanted to use Tuitele and Burton to help add production from behind the pocket with special formations rather than the constant schemes of the passing game. Tuitele was able to step into the limelight in his second year doing more than what he did in 2007 and ended the season drastically improving his stats with 122 carries for 509 yards rushing and 9 touchdowns.
By adding everything up from the moment he came to Mt. SAC to the time he stepped off the gridiron, Tuitele has collected his awards and accomplishments and has made an open road to success.
Now in Hawaii, still with much to prove, Iosefa’s determination and character is going to take him far and with that, it will surely be a factor to his success.
At one point during his time at Mt. SAC, BYU had expressed interest in signing both Lancer and Burton. I wonder why they never revisited that offer to both.
For Sept. 4, I’m not expecting much to happen in the start of Tuitele’s first year (seeing that he will be behind the current backs who are starting for Hawaii), but any kind of contribution that he does make will be more than satisfactory from observance. Tuitele is so much more than what’s written on paper and I’m hoping the Hawaii coaching staff takes note of this.
PHOTO COURTESY OF WVILLUSTRATED.COM
University of West Virginia
POSITION AT MT SAC:
Sept. 4 VS Coastal Carolina – 3:30 EST on ESPN3
The one thing I really liked about Irvin during his time at Mt. SAC was his humbleness.
Irvin knew at the JC level, he was going to be bigger than life. Irvin knew that there was buzz about his athleticism–his freakish speed to go along with his tall 6-foot-something frame. But above all that, Irvin knew it all but went about it in modesty-a quiet guy who did what he was told and at the end of the day, it was just another day at the job.
He rarely smiled. But when he did, he would let you know that he was enjoying that moment.
At Mt. SAC he had a lot to smile about.
With offers coming as far west as it carried to the far east, choosing where to go was a rather big deal for Irvin.
During one-on-one conversations, Irvin said that as long as he was given playing time, he’d go anywhere. Much of the talks during the time were him going to Tennessee, USC or Arizona State. But to West Virginia?
I never heard West Virginia being an option during our ‘off-the-record’ talks.
But Irvin will fit right in with the team and I believe he’s made the right choice for the school he’s playing for.
What more can I analyze about Irvin?
He can run, he can use his body well for speed and strength and for his height, it’s amazing to see how he zig-zags against the opposing linemen.
READ A PREVIOUS ARTICLE ON BRUCE IRVIN BY CLICKING HERE.
SCHOOL: Utah State University
POSITION AT MT SAC: Wide Receiver
GAME TIME: Sept. 4 at Oklahoma – 7:00 EST
ANALYSIS: I want to leave football for a moment and talk about Austin’s athleticism.
Matt Austin is an amazing basketball player. During the off-season from Mt. SAC football, I happened to roam in the campus gym and saw a large number of guys playing a pickup game. One of the guys I noticed was Austin himself and here’s what I picked up from his playing:
Austin can handle the ball extremely well. While he doesn’t dribble-drive too much, he’s extremely quick going down the key and is always scoring for the team.
Austin can shoot … he can shoot … he can shoot. And when he misses, the opposing rebounders stop and stare and before they know it, Austin has snagged the rebound and scooped it in for a two points.
Austin hustles. His vertical leap is amazing. For his tall 6-foot-3-inch height, he jumps with shocks coiled tightly beneath his sneakers.
Getting back to football, add everything that I’ve mentioned and integrate those skills to his football game.
Austin is a fun-loving, outgoing, outspoken person. He enjoys the company of friends and has a passion for sports. But he also knows when to turn off the switch and turn on his football game switch.
When Austin plays, he makes them. He uses his height and leaping ability to his advantage and at Mt. SAC, there have been more than enough highlight plays that I’ve witnessed in practice and in games.
Despite the broken foot he suffered last season, Austin plays with energy but he knows how to harness it on the field.
The big question is how will he fare against Oklahoma’s secondary and how will he adjust if he goes on a funk early in the game. Do I predict first-game jitters from Austin? Maybe so.
But once he finds his niche, no matter how tall his defender is, Austin is going to be everywhere in the field.
This will be a big game for him and his fans.
PHOTO BY JAMES CHOY
San Jose State University
POSITION AT MT SAC:
Sept. 4 at Alabama – 7:00 EST on ESPN3
San Jose State had a bad 2009.
To make matters worse, three of their first four games will be against big time schools.
The Spartans will start the season against the number one team in Alabama at Alabama. Then they’ll travel to Wisconsin to play against the Badgers the following week before their home opener against Southern Utah on Sept. 18. As they return back to the road, they’ll be facing Utah a week after.
Spartans head coach Mike MacIntyre has his hands full.
So does Matt Faulkner.
My analysis: There is no other person that I would have in this situation than Matt Faulkner.
Faulkner is not what you call a human highlight of limelight proportions. Faulkner is not a flashy media-expose’ type of person.
Faulkner studies, works at what he does and executes.
This is why he won the state and national championship at Mt. SAC.
To put it simply, Faulkner is all-class. At 6-foot-2 205 pounds, he may seem like your typical All-American quarterback but behind his healthy build, there lies more than that smile on his face.
Statistically, going 217-for-355 with a total of 3,303 yards passing and 29 touchdowns and 13 interceptions is not bad in anyway.
Who he was off the field is what mattered to me as he carried that persona on the field.
To others, Faulkner was a genuinely nice guy. He was nice to the media, nice to his players, his peers and his family.
Someone once told me, ‘Character counts and when it does everything else falls in place.’ If this saying goes for many then Faulkner is one who is capable of accomplishing any task — great or small.
With the beginning of the season near, this is a big task for Faulkner.
He is a coach’s perfect pupil. He will listen and do. He works hard at whatever mistakes he makes and once handled he will produce.
This is what I saw of him in 2009.
Come September 4, against the number one team in the nation, he will have his hands full. But don’t be surprised if his hands are emptied before the clock goes to zero.
OTHER PLAYERS TO WATCH:
** Eddie Williams and UCLA at Kansas State – 3:30 EST on ABC.
** Chris Ramos and Idaho vs. North Dakota – 9:00 EST