Sports Notebook

Friday, December 6, 2002

UH defense struggling
to stay healthy

Game sparks sibling rivalry

By Dave Reardon

Hawaii goes into tomorrow's football game against San Diego State with a depleted defense.

But since the Warriors rotate in so many players, the replacements for two injured starters and a key reserve have played a lot.

Senior starting linebacker Matt Wright practiced some yesterday, but a torn meniscus suffered in Saturday's 21-16 loss to Alabama forced him out.

"He has a shot, but I had to get him off the field (yesterday). He wasn't right," defensive coordinator Kevin Lempa said. "He says he's going to play, but ..."

Even if Wright manages to play, Keani Alapa will see a lot of action. Alapa is one of UH's best pass-defending linebackers and normally plays in the Warriors' long-yardage defensive schemes. San Diego State has the nation's sixth most prolific passing attack.

Junior Kevin Jackson, part of the four-man rotation at end, is out with a staph infection of his right knee.

Senior Chris Brown, who starts at middle linebacker in UH's base package, will probably play a lot at end and tackle tomorrow.

Freshman Leonard Peters replaces junior Hyrum Peters at strong safety. Hyrum Peters injured his left knee in the Alabama game.

On offense, center Lui Fuata is out with a knee injury, also from Saturday and is replaced by freshman Derek Faavi.

Stars aplenty: Four Hawaii seniors are set to participate in the Hula Bowl Maui on Feb. 1 and several more might be added in the coming weeks.

La'anui Correa, a three-year starter at defensive end, is the latest Warrior to join the mix. Defensive back Sean Butts and offensive linemen Fuata and Vince Manuwai have also been invited and committed to play. Fuata should be OK to play by the time of the all-star game.

Linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa has been invited, but said he has not decided whether to play. He and Manuwai are both also in the Senior Bowl on Jan. 18 in Mobile, Ala.

Punter Mat McBriar, wide receiver Justin Colbert and Brown might also be signed on soon for the Hula Bowl. Running back Thero Mitchell is also a possibility.

Brown and Fuata have also been invited to the East-West Shrine game, Jan. 11 at Pacific Bell Park in San Francisco. Brown is listed on the West roster.

Manuwai named All-American: Manuwai was selected to the All-American team, which the Web site released yesterday.

It is the first first-team All-American recognition for a UH player since Jason Elam was named first-team kicker by Kodak and Scripps Howard in 1992.

Rolo to Europe: Former UH quarterback Nick Rolovich said the Denver Broncos told him they plan to send him to NFL Europe next year.

"That's good, because it guarantees me a roster spot in (the Broncos') training camp next year," said Rolovich, who has spent the past few weeks in Hawaii.

Rolovich tried out for the Broncos as a free agent last summer but was cut. He worked out with the San Jose SaberCats of the Arena Football League earlier this fall, but was not signed.

He said his brother, Jack Rolovich, plans to make a recruiting visit to UH. The younger Rolovich is a 6-foot-3, 200-pound quarterback at San Marin High School (Calif.).

Nick Rolovich said his brother is also considering Colorado State and Cal. The Bears have already offered Jack a scholarship, but he wants to make other visits before deciding, Nick said.

Makin' movies: Filmmaker Jeremy Spear conducted interviews of defensive linemen Houston Ala, Isaac Sopoaga and Tinoisamoa yesterday at practice for possible use in a documentary called "Splittin' The Rock: Poly Power in the NFL."

Spear said he is at the beginning stages of a two- or three-year project chronicling the ascent of Polynesian athletes in football.

Gbaja-Biamila makes trip: San Diego State arrived yesterday afternoon and practiced at Aloha Stadium. The Aztecs are staying at the Turtle Bay Resort.

Senior defensive lineman Akbar Gbaja-Biamila made the trip despite the death of his mother, Bola Tito Anjorin Gbaja-Baimila, in a car accident Sunday night.

The accident happened the same day that Akbar's brother, Green Bay Packers defensive end Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila, became a father. His wife Eileen gave birth to a boy named Abdul Rasheed.

Equipment manager's nightmare: SDSU junior defensive back Phouthai Keoreopesangsavanhkeosveunxay probably has the longest name in the history of college football.

What does it say on his uniform?

P.K., according to Kevin Klintworth of the Aztecs sports information department.

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