Slotback Bess practices punts
June Jones is hesitant to let star slotback Davone Bess return punts, but the Hawaii football coach doesn't mind letting the sophomore kick some, at least in practice.
Bess punted three times from around midfield during one of yesterday's special teams periods. He blasted a high 50-yarder into the end zone and a 40-yarder that died around the 10-yard line before shanking a wounded duck that drew "quacks" from the defensive linemen.
Bess, a former high school quarterback, capped off the sequence by taking the fourth snap, rolling to his right and throwing an incomplete pass.
Kurt Milne -- who has kicked the previous 161 punts for UH going back to 2003 -- mishandled a high snap in the Sept. 2 season opener at Alabama, leading to a safety.
Milne's average dropped from a career-high 39.9 yards in 2004 to 36.1 last year.
Jones said Milne is still the No. 1 punter, but that he wants to see what Bess can do.
"He punted in high school, so we're taking a look," Jones said.
Jones has a history of ideas to try to get the player he considers the team's best athlete onto the field more.
He briefly toyed with the idea of playing Bess in the defensive secondary last spring, but the experiment never materialized. Jones is also tempted to use him as a kick and punt returner, but doesn't want to risk injuring Bess, who was a freshman All-American receiver.
Bess -- who has also talked about trying out for the UH baseball team -- said he is game for anything.
"I can punt," said Bess, who starred at Skyline High School in Oakland, Calif. "My senior year, our first stringer went down, and Coach asked for volunteers. So I volunteered and won the job and did it the whole season.
"Coach Jones came up to me and asked me if it would take too much out of my leg. I said no, he asked me if I wanted to do it, and I said yeah."
Jones wouldn't say when Bess might be used in punt formation during a game, if ever. It would certainly give opponents something more to think about, given Bess' athleticism and Jones' penchant for trick plays.
"I don't know about all that," Bess said. "Hopefully I'll get to do it in a game. I'm looking forward to it. Whatever I can do."
Elimimian not counted out:
It became doubtful that starting inside linebacker Solomon Elimimian
would be able to play Saturday against UNLV after he missed practice yesterday due to a knee injury suffered against Alabama.
But Jones wasn't giving up on the possibility yet.
"I would say it's not looking good right now," Jones said. "But I don't think it's for sure yet."
Brad Kalilimoku and Blaze Soares are set to replace Elimimian.
"Between those, hopefully we'll find a mesh," Jones said. "The play-calling and the adjustment stuff, that's where we're going to miss him."
Starting free safety Leonard Peters took reps yesterday in the shoulder pads and helmets practice. He said he will play Saturday despite broken rib cartilage.
The real Colt:
UH quarterback Colt Brennan watched Saturday's No. 1 and No. 2 matchup between Ohio State and Texas. He said he wasn't surprised by the outcome since the Longhorns started a freshman quarterback, Colt McCoy
"Pretty much what I expected. Anytime you get a young QB in a big game like that, it really takes an extraordinary effort, especially against a great defense like Ohio State has," Brennan said. "You saw the young kid, he made some good throws and some good plays, but he's just a young pup out there. I was there last year. He's just got to get some more games under his belt."
A TV reporter asked Brennan yesterday who is favorite target is. Brennan did the smart thing by saying it is senior running back Nate Ilaoa, who gets an occasional shovel or swing pass.
"I didn't throw any of my receivers under the bus," Brennan said.
Like the strong freestyle rapper that he is, Ilaoa didn't miss a beat.
"It better not be UNLV," he said.