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Sunday, August 24, 2003



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STAR-BULLETIN / OCTOBER 2002
Hawaii's Chad Owens will start at left slot receiver on Saturday vs. Appalachian State.


Warriors
‘pretty much set’
for opener


Britton Komine will start at left wide receiver and Kurt Milne at punter Saturday in Hawaii's football opener against Appalachian State, UH coaches said yesterday. But the Warriors are still trying to decide on a running back, head coach June Jones said.

After 23 practices and five walk-throughs, Jones drew one general conclusion yesterday, on the eve of the end of fall camp.

"We're pretty much set," Jones said.

The players he projected as starters going into preparation for the 13-game regular season are, nearly without exception, still his choices to take the field first when UH hosts Appalachian State at Aloha Stadium on Saturday to open the 2003 season.

His quarterback, Tim Chang, is not available because of a one-game suspension. And a couple of loose ends remain, but that's only because of injuries.

Komine, UH's leading returning receiver moved from slot, fended off true freshman Jason Rivers, who is adjusting to college football after an outstanding career at Saint Louis School.

"Britton would probably start at any (receiver) position right now," Jones said.

There was plenty of drama on the offensive line in camp, as projected starting left tackle Samson Satele missed a week with injury and two-year starter Uriah Moenoa reported overweight. But the line, as well as the starting receivers, are now the same as they were coming out of spring drills.

Running back remains anyone's guess. Five players still contend for playing time and the starting spot.

"I don't know," Jones said. "All of them are about equal."

On defense, injuries could dictate who starts, but the hurts are minor and none of the projected starters were beaten out. Defensive coordinator George Lumpkin said he plans on giving at least 22 players significant playing time, regardless of who starts. One of them figures to be converted cornerback Lamar Broadway, a sophomore who has shined at strong safety.

"I thought Lamar Broadway had an unreal camp. So did our true-freshman linemen. Jeremy (Inferrera) and Larry (Sauafea)," Jones said. "Camp's been good. A little bit different. Longer than in the past, when we gave them more days off. But the way the NCAA makes us practice now we don't get as much time off."

As for special teams, second-year freshman Milne has won the battle for starting punter over sophomore JC transfer Tim Wright.

"We'll go with Kurt initially and see how he does," special teams coordinator Tyson Helton said. "Tim is an extremely talented guy but needs to get used to the rush. Kurt's been doing a nice job getting the ball out. Hopefully we'll be able to get Tim in there and take a couple."

Below is where the Warriors stand six days before kickoff:


Offense

Quarterback

Jason Whieldon (6-1, 187, Sr.)
It's Whieldon's job, but only for the opener against Appalachian State because of junior Tim Chang's one-game suspension for playing in the Hawaii Bowl when he was academically ineligible. Chang, who reported in outstanding condition, was sharp throughout camp. Sophomore Jeff Rhode passed second-year freshman Ryan Stickler for the No. 3 spot. Jones said he does not plan to use Rhode on Saturday, except perhaps in a mop-up role.

Running back

Undecided
Michael Bass (5-7, 174, Jr.) has always been a Jones favorite and may have the inside track. But John West (5-10, 180, Sr.) and Michael Brewster (5-6, 180, Jr.) have had outstanding camps. That's all moot if Jones goes with a big blocking back like scrimmage-starter Pesefea Fiaseu (5-10, 255, So.) or West Keliikipi (6-1, 266, Fr.).

Left tackle

Samson Satele (6-3, 289, Fr.)
Satele missed a week with a left shoulder strain and the flu, but performed well enough since to regain his position. Jeremy Inferrera (6-2, 281, true Fr.) made some very good first impressions. So did Larry Sauafea (6-2, 269, true Fr.) before pulling a groin.

Left guard

Shayne Kajioka (6-3, 302, Sr.)
Kajioka reported in outstanding shape for the second year in a row. He was hampered by the flu toward the end of camp, but should be ready to go Saturday.

Center

Derek Faavi (6-1, 273, So.)
There's still a week left, but Faavi appears to have held off a spirited charge by Phil Kauffman (6-1, 291, Jr.).

Right guard

Uriah Moenoa (6-2, 340, Jr.)
Moenoa hasn't lost all the weight he wants yet, but it's enough for offensive line coach Mike Cavanaugh not to bench perhaps his most talented and experienced player. Kauffman is pushing at this spot, too.

Right tackle

Dane Uperesa (6-5, 318, Fr.)
Uperesa has had a fairly solid camp and gains confidence daily, but some observers say he must think less and react more through instinct gained by repetition.

Left wide receiver

Britton Komine (5-10, 187, Jr.)
Komine, a converted slot, will start, Jones said. Talented Jason Rivers (6-2, 187, true Fr.) showed potential, but not consistency and was hampered by a tight hamstring.

Left slot receiver

Chad Owens (5-9, 177, Jr.)
Owens was steady and at times spectacular throughout the 2 1/2 weeks. Still, UH needs to find a way to get Ross Dickerson (5-10, 174, Fr.) onto the field.

Right slot receiver

Nate Ilaoa (5-9, 204, So.)
Like Owens, Ilaoa seems to have put last year's injuries behind him. He is elusive and strong. Backup Clifton Herbert (5-8, 157) was hurt early in camp, but is playing his way back into game-shape.

Right wide receiver

Jeremiah Cockheran (6-0, 193, Sr.)
Has a bad day with his hands once in a while, but daily practice attendees know Cockheran has improved immensely from last season. Those include his teammates, who voted him offensive captain. Cockheran, who had an ankle sprain last week, must remain healthy since backups Mike Akiu (5-8, 164, So.) and Daniel Inferrera (6-0, 195, Fr.) also have injury problems.


Defense

Left end

Houston Ala (6-1, 250, Sr.)
Ala is the George Ariyoshi of UH football players -- quiet and effective. He's one of the few who remained healthy throughout camp. Darryl Tautofi (6-2, 281, Jr.) is an option here, as well as at tackle.

Left tackle

Isaac Sopoaga (6-3, 336, Sr.)
He promises his aching back won't keep him out of any games. Lui Fuga (6-1, 301, Sr.) won't be back for Appalachian State as he continues rehab of his ankle, but Matt Faga (6-2, 380, Jr.) might despite a shoulder sublux.

Right tackle

Lance Samuseva (6-0, 309, Sr.)
Samuseva's as solid as always. Abu Ma'afala (6-3, 261, So.) and Keali'i Aguiar (6-1, 325, Sr.) will both rotate in at tackle.

Right end

Kevin Jackson (6-4, 245, Sr.) or Travis LaBoy (6-4, 254, Sr.)
LaBoy might be the team's most talented player, but as usual his health could keep him out of the starting lineup. Mel Purcell (6-5, 258, So.) and Tony Akpan (6-7, 254, So.) are raw but full of potential.

Outside linebacker (strong side)

Keani Alapa (6-0, 221, Sr.)
Although a first-year starter, Alapa is one of the most experienced Warriors. As a back-up who will play a lot, Chad Kapanui (6-0, 225, Sr.) seems to have finally found a spot where he can contribute regularly.

Middle linebacker

Chad Kalilimoku (5-11, 240, Sr.)
Kalilimoku is Jones' pick to make the biggest impact defensively in the league, outside of Sopoaga. Watson Ho'ohuli (6-1, 239, So.) spells him.

Outside linebacker (weak side)

Ikaika Curnan (5-11, 218, So.)
Curnan was in the mix for extensive playing time last season, but was held back by injuries. He's in great shape and hasn't had that problem this year. Kilinahe Noa (5-11, 228, Jr.) will also play plenty.

Left cornerback

Abraham Elimimian (5-10, 191, Jr.)
A pretty good player as a sophomore, Elimimian is stronger and faster than last year. His back-up, Kenny Patton (6-0, 181, So.) will likely play in some special pass-defense schemes.

Strong safety

Hyrum Peters (5-8, 190, Sr.)
The defensive captain is nursing a calf strain, but promised to return to practice tonight at Aloha Stadium. Lono Manners (5-10, 186, So.) gets better and better. Lamar Broadway (5-11, 176, So.) was one of the camp's brightest stars, according to Jones.

Free safety

Leonard Peters (6-1, 181, So.)
Avoided injuries this month and passed David Gilmore (6-0, 197, Sr.) for the starting spot, though Gilmore will play nickel.

Right cornerback

Starter: Kelvin Millhouse (6-1, 206, Sr.)
UH's shutdown corner's spot was never in question. But back-up Gary Wright (5-9, 198, Sr.) is valuable as an extra back on passing downs.


Specialists

Kicker

Justin Ayat (5-11, 205, Jr.)
It's third-year starter Ayat's job by default. Walk-on Nolan Miranda (5-8, 172, Fr.) sprained an ankle early in camp.

Punter

Kurt Milne (6-0, 204, Fr.)
Milne gets the first chance, but JC transfer Tim Wright (6-5, 210, So.) will be worked in.

Snapper

T.J. Moe (6-0, 220, So.)
He'll handle both short and long snap duties, and is still contending for some time at linebacker.

Holder

Jason Whieldon (6-0, 191, Sr.)
With Whieldon starting at quarterback in the opener, Rhode might do the holding against Appalachian State.

Punt returner

Chad Owens (5-9, 174, Jr.)
UH's most exciting return man will see part-time duty on kicks because of his role as a starting receiver.

Kick returner

Ross Dickerson (5-10, 172, Fr.)
This will probably be done by committee, with Brewster, Herbert and Owens in the mix.


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