Tuesday, September 20, 2005

UH an underdog
in Idaho’s dome

The smaller venue can get
loud and may cause problems
for the visiting Warriors

Hawaii at Idaho

Where: Kibbie Dome, Moscow, Idaho

When: Saturday

Time: 4 p.m. (Hawaii time)

TV: Live, Oceanic Cable, pay-per-view ch. 256. Call (808) 625-8100 on Oahu or (808) 643-2337 statewide. Delay at 9:30 p.m. and 10 a.m. Sunday on KFVE ch. 5. Also live to regional audience on ESPNU.

Radio: KKEA-1420

Internet: sportsradio1420.com

The Idaho Vandals want to prove to the Hawaii Warriors that you don't have to have 80,000 screaming fans to create a home-field advantage.

A boisterous group of 16,000 or so can create a tough atmosphere for visitors at the Kibbie Dome in Moscow, Idaho.

That's the site of Saturday's first matchup for UH and Idaho as Western Athletic Conference football foes. The 0-3 Vandals are 3-point favorites against the 0-2 Warriors, who have lost their last six road games.

UH senior safety Landon Kafentzis has been to the Kibbie Dome several times.

"That's where we used to go to football camp. I even played there in basketball tournaments growing up," said Kafentzis, who is from Richland, Wash., about a 2 hours' drive from Moscow. "Because it's not very big it doesn't take a lot for it to get really loud in there.

"I know the turf is really hard. Really hard. Not the ideal playing surface, but it's a good place to play, at least for me, because it's close to home," added Kafentzis, who shared first-team reps with Lamar Broadway at free safety yesterday.

Kafentzis -- whose father, Mark, and four uncles played defensive back at UH a generation ago -- said he's trying to get at least 30 tickets for friends and family members.

One relative won't need a ticket. Landon's younger brother, Tyson, is a second-year freshman and is listed as senior Tanuvasa Moe's backup at weakside linebacker.

Landon Kafentzis is also looking forward to playing against Idaho receiver Jeff Stowe, who missed most of last season with an injury.

"He's one of my best friends. I trained with him this summer, did a whole bunch of one-on-one stuff. We've been talking, looking forward to it," Kafentzis said. "I know his knee's been bothering him, but he said he'll be back for this game, full-go."

Kafentzis, a transfer from Arizona, said he doesn't completely buy into the idea that the Warriors are better than their 31- to 105-point differential in losses to USC and Michigan State to start the season.

"We feel like we could've played better against those teams. Those are two tough teams and we have to build on our performances against them and learn from our mistakes," he said.

Kafentzis said defensive coordinator Jerry Glanville's simplifying of the unit's schemes is to his liking.

"It's a lot less thinking now. More reacting and being an athlete, going to the ball," he said.

Uperesa, Fruean out: A contributor on each line is out with a sprained ankle for Saturday's game. Right tackle Dane Uperesa on offense and nose tackle Renolds Fruean both got hurt in the 42-14 loss at Michigan State and didn't heal enough during the bye week to make this week's trip.

Uperesa re-entered against the Spartans.

"It showed real good character in Dane to go back with the tweak when he was still warm," offensive line coach Wes Suan said. "After the game he felt more pain. He did the best he could. His effort made a real strong impression on the coaching staff."

With Uperesa out, right guard Brandon Eaton returns to starting right tackle. Marques Kaonohi moves in at right guard.

"He's been playing well and deserves some time," Suan said of Kaonohi. "He's a conscientious kid. He's been working a lot as our backup center, but he's confident and knows enough to play well at guard."

Fruean was considered the top contender to open the season as starting nose tackle, but did not play in the opener against USC because of a sore hip. This would've been a homecoming of sorts for the Washington State transfer (Moscow, Idaho, is just a few miles from Pullman, Wash.).

Second-year freshman Keala Watson might start at nose Saturday. He is listed at the top of the depth chart with Michael Lafaele next. Tony Akpan and Reagan Mauia, along with Fruean, have played most of the downs so far.

"It looks that way right now," defensive line coach Vantz Singletary said of Watson, who has not played in a year because of a blood disorder and a broken arm. "I'm still looking at everybody, but he can do it all. He's big and smart."

Cornerback Kenny Patton practiced yesterday, although he is still dealing with a separated shoulder. Keao Monteilh got most of the reps on the other side.

Quarterback Colt Brennan is also expected to play despite a separated (right) shoulder. He returned to practice yesterday.

Running back Chris Cole is now listed as out for the season with a shoulder injury he suffered last month in a scrimmage.

Cox ready?: Freshman running back Mario Cox said he has been told he will travel with the team this week. How much he will play is another question; Cox missed all of fall camp while waiting for NCAA clearance.

"I'm picking up the plays pretty good now. It's just picking up the speed, the speed of college football," Cox said after yesterday's practice.

Running backs coach Mouse Davis said Cox could give the Warriors another offensive weapon.

"He looked excellent as a high school prospect," Davis said. "Now he's got to get into blocking and understand what's going on. We'll see. He looked OK today. He's got talent, but he's got to work hard at it."

Short yardage: The Warriors leave for Idaho after Thursday morning's practice. They will stay in Lewiston. ... Freshman offensive lineman Raphael Ieru underwent surgery on his right knee for a torn lateral meniscus.

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