Sports Notebook

Monday, September 1, 2003

Jason Whieldon had a strong game filling in as UH's quarterback, but coach June Jones says there is no controversy.

Ilaoa has
MRI on knee

Hawaii sophomore slot receiver Nate Ilaoa underwent medical tests yesterday to determine the seriousness of an injury to his right knee. He hurt the knee in UH's 40-17 football season-opening victory over Appalachian State on Saturday at Aloha Stadium.

Results of an MRI were not immediately available.

Ilaoa said yesterday the knee feels OK, and that he thinks he can play in UH's next game, a week from Saturday at Southern California.

"It's cool, I think I'll be ready," said Ilaoa, who remained in the game for several plays after the one in which his knee was hit. Ilaoa said there was no swelling or pain yesterday.

"We're probably going to give it 10 days and see how he is," coach June Jones said. "He's walking around and the swelling is limited, so those are good signs."

If Ilaoa is unable to play against USC, receivers coach Ron Lee said the Warriors will start either senior Clifton Herbert or junior Gerald Welch in his place.

"Either one can do the job," Lee said. "Gerald and Clifton will be fine."

Lee added it is unlikely at this point that UH would move left wide receiver Britton Komine back to slot, which he played last year. Also, second-year freshman Ross Dickerson will remain as junior Chad Owens' backup at right slot and not move to the left if Ilaoa is out.

Ilaoa caught two passes for 51 yards Saturday. He played through shoulder and hamstring injuries most of last season, appearing in 12 games. Ilaoa caught 46 passes for 532 yards and three touchdowns and rushed six times for 56 yards and a touchdown.

Herbert caught 30 passes for 377 yards and three touchdowns last season. Welch, injured most of last season, made two catches for 13 yards.

Also on Saturday, junior starting cornerback Abraham Elimimian suffered a strained left shoulder and is day to day. He is not expected to miss any games.

Special stuff: While at times it appeared Hawaii could name its score against Appalachian State, the knockout blow didn't come until Dickerson's 100-yard kickoff return at the end of the third quarter completed the scoring.

Special teams coordinator Tyson Helton said there were plenty of unsung heroes on the return.

"It was a combination of guys," Helton said. "The wedge did a nice job. T.J. Moe and Lono Manners secured the outside pressure and Chad Kapanui and West Keliikipi did a good job of blowing up the middle area so there was no penetration. And Pati Mailo, our middle guy, was real nice on their middle penetrator, basically driving him off the field.

"The front guys did well, too, moving up field to the next level to make sure Ross went all the way," Helton said.

Also, Dickerson effectively picked his way through the blocking.

"The first two returns he just kind of ran right up there," Helton said. "We talked to him on the side about setting up his blockers. On the touchdown he went right, then left to the hole."

Junior kicker Justin Ayat also had a good game (except for a blocked extra point). Ayat easily made field goals of 48 and 36 yards, and five of his seven kickoffs went for touchbacks. The other two resulted in Appalachian State starting on its 27- and 24-yard lines.

"Justin had a great game," Helton said. "We've always expected him to do that well. He always had the talent. For the most part he's shown that, but now he's really showing how good he is."

Second-year freshman Kurt Milne started at punter and averaged 44.3 yards on three kicks. Sophomore Tim Wright got two chances, and kicked for 40 and 33 yards.

Seeds, no dip: For those concerned about what junior quarterback Tim Chang was caught on TV spitting into a cup during Saturday's game, it was sunflower seeds, not smokeless tobacco, Jones said. Chang doesn't use tobacco, and the UH coaches don't allow it, quarterbacks coach Dan Morrison said.

Chang returns as Hawaii's starting quarterback after serving a one-game suspension Saturday for playing in last year's Hawaii Bowl while academically ineligible.

Jones said Jason Whieldon's winning performance Saturday does not create a quarterback controversy.

"I hope not," Jones said when asked if Whieldon will play at all against USC.

Player of the Week nominees: UH nominated wide receiver Jeremiah Cockheran (seven catches for 154 yards and three touchdowns), safety Hyrum Peters (nine tackles and an interception) and Dickerson for Western Athletic Conference Player of the Week honors.

Around the WAC: Nevada's 24-23 victory against Southern Utah on Saturday was costly. The Wolf Pack lost safety Ronnie Hardiman. The senior's career ended with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in the fourth quarter. ... Hawaii and Nevada were the only two of nine league teams in action to win last weekend, and the conference was outscored 374-123. ... The tough schedule continues this week for WAC teams: Oregon State is at Fresno State on Friday, while on Saturday, Nevada is at Oregon, Tulsa visits Arkansas, Louisiana Tech visits Louisiana-Lafayette, Idaho State is at Boise State, Cal Poly goes to Texas-El Paso and San Jose State plays at Stanford.

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