For this weekly column, the Minnesota Daily will interview someone knowledgeable about Minnesota’s next opponent. Manase Hungalu, the middle linebacker for Oregon State, was interviewed this week.
Hungalu has had 16 starts in his career with the Beavers. He had 83 total tackles in 2016, the first among returners. He had eight tackles in last year’s game against Minnesota.
Your Beavers have given up 90 points in the first two games, what has been the focus in practice to sure things up?
Just stop the run. That’s been our main problem. We need to handle the run situation first. We need to be more disciplined in our gaps and in our fits. A lot of this week, we’ve been pretty much focused on the line of scrimmage. If we get that handled, we’ll have a better game. We let up too many yards with Portland State rushing and that needs to be fixed. That’s all we just pretty much focused on this whole week was just stopping the run.
How is this year’s Beavers team different from last year?
We got more experienced players. We got a lot of players that returned that either started or took a lot of snaps from last year. I feel like everybody developed more from there health, what’s in their health, and the knowledge of football. It’s starting to come together, the third game, we should be well on our way for what we want to be and we’re getting that done.
What do you remember about playing the Gophers last year?
They had a good [offensive line], I know that only a couple are returning, but they had a good [offensive line] and a good quarterback. This year they got a new quarterback, they still got their same running backs. Really good running backs. That’s about it.
How is this year’s Gophers team different?
The offense is a bit different. They don’t really run a pro offense like they used to. They kind of run the spread, just like ours. They use their tight ends a lot. That’s pretty much what I noticed is they just run a lot of spread now.
What have the coaches talked about that would make your team successful in this game?
Like I said, just pretty much stopping the run. ... I’m pretty sure in the tapes from the last three games, we’ve been kind of soft on the run, so they’re going to come out and run and try to establish the run game, but our main focus is to control that line of scrimmage and stop the run as much as we can.
Who are some Gophers that could give your team problems on defense?
The running backs. They don’t like to go down on the first contact, they’re physical, they keep their feet moving, they’re always trying to gain yards. The main objective is to just hit them where they stand and knock them down right there and pretty much control that line of scrimmage.
After Gophers wide receiver Tyler Johnson’s breakout performance last week, have the Beavers done anything in practice to account for him?
We input some new plays that will help that out but our main objective is to just stop the run first and we’ve got the coverage backfield taken care of to make sure that receiver doesn’t do what he did, or none of the receivers get free or open coverages.
With quarterback Marcus McMaryion transferring, what has happened to the Beavers offense?
I don’t what they’re doing on that side, but it seems as if they’re trying to establish the run game a little bit more. The running game has been kind of soft lately so we’re going to try to get that going and complete passes at the same time, just establish both run game and pass game.
With the wildfires going on near Corvallis, Oregon, has the smoke been an issue in practice?
Not really. We’ve got people to test the air quality, and it’s still been clear enough to practice. But we got an indoor facility that we’ve been practicing in, and we practiced in the indoor facility today.
What kind of gap did leading tackler of last year, Caleb Saulo, leave?
Great player, he’s another great linebacker that we lost but I feel like we’ve gained a lot more experienced guys this year to be able to cover him and to be able to play his position while he left. We’re good with the linebackers.
Who is filling that gap on defense?
This week will be Jonathan Willis. He played outside linebacker last week, but he’s going to be playing inside linebacker this week.
Who’s the best offensive player on the team?
[Running back] Ryan Nall
Best defensive player?
[Cornerback] Xavier Crawford
[Wide receiver] Seth Collins
Most slept on player?
Your favorite song to get pumped up on game day?
Any hip hop song, I don’t really have a particular choice, I just listen to whatever.
Favorite NFL team?
Favorite NFL player?
Right now: Luke Kuechly, Overall: Ray Lewis
Dream job outside of football?