RICHARD WALKER / RWALKER@STARBULLETIN.COM
Hawaii cornerback Kenny Patton is tied for fourth on the team with 18 tackles after getting three against Nevada.
Patton has good, bad memories of Fresno
The senior corner was there for UH's win and big loss
Kenny Patton saves his considerable analytical ability for the classroom these days.
On the football field, the Hawaii cornerback and perennial scholar-athlete award winner depends on his skill and experience.
He's playing with what seems like reckless abandon -- but guided by instinct reinforced through hundreds of practices and the 41 college games he's played in since 2002.
HAWAII AT FRESNO STATE
When: Saturday, 11:05 a.m.
Where: Bulldog Stadium, Fresno, Calif.
TV: Live, KFVE, Ch.5
Radio: KKEA, 1420-AM
"It's my senior season. I'm not thinking as much. Thinking was killing me," Patton said after yesterday's practice in preparation for Hawaii's game Saturday at Fresno State. "Now it's work out, practice, study film and play the game. Don't think so much out there. Whatever happens, happens."
"Whatever happens" lately for Patton has usually been good.
He's emerged as the consistent playmaker the Warriors coaches always thought he could become. In the last two games, Patton has an interception and a fumble recovery. He also made two key pass-defense plays in last Saturday's 41-34 victory over Nevada, one during the decisive goal-line stand.
Patton is tied for fourth on the team with 18 tackles. Not bad considering he had to battle back to a starting spot after experimenting at receiver in the spring.
Being healthy helps. Patton had dealt with hamstring, shoulder and knee injuries since 2003, when he was forced to take a medical redshirt after playing as a true freshman the year before.
"I'm trusting my instincts, and I'm not injured anymore. So I don't have to worry, 'Oh, I don't want to come up and do this because this might happen, or this is sore, or I can't break off this leg because my hamstring is sore.' On and on and on. I'd been hurt my whole career here.
"I'm praying that I stay healthy. Football is all about staying healthy. If I do get hurt, we've got depth now. I know if something happens to me the next guy will step up and play well," Patton added.
He was part of the depth in 2002, when Patton and another freshman named Leonard Peters were the fifth and sixth defensive backs in UH's 31-21 victory at Fresno State.
"I got to blitz about five to ten times that game. That was pretty much all the nickels (fifth backs) did then," Patton said. "Behind this Nevada win, I would say that was the next most memorable win for me. That and the Houston (2003 Hawaii Bowl) game."
He saw the other side of it two years ago. Patton was a starting corner when the Bulldogs blitzed the Warriors 70-14.
"I choose not to remember that game. That was a bad game. We're not going to let that happen again. They're going to try to do the same thing again, because they're a smashmouth football team. But we're not going to let that happen."
Kalilimoku moves outside:
With a rash of injuries at outside linebacker, Brad Kalilimoku is taking reps there again. Kalilimoku practiced at the left side yesterday.
"We're trying it again. We've got a couple guys hurt with Brashton Satele and Tyson Kafentzis out," outside linebackers coach George Lumpkin said. "There's no doubt Brad's a talented football player and good athlete. We'll see how it goes."
Kalilimoku started at inside linebacker last year and was moved to strong safety in spring practice. He was moved back to inside linebacker and started in place of Solomon Elimimian when he had a knee sprain last month. He also worked out at outside linebacker for several practices in September.
"I'm trying to get the hang of it," Kalilimoku said. "I guess I'm one of those guys the coaches think they can move."
Lumpkin said C.J. Allen-Jones (despite several nagging injuries) and Karl Noa will likely start again Saturday.
Kafentzis may be ready to come back from the ankle injury he suffered at Boise State three weeks ago, and Amani Purcell will see plenty of playing time after performing well against Nevada.
The defensive line is fairly healthy, with the exception of second-team defensive end Fale Laeli. He's expected to miss a third game with a knee injury.
Reserve cornerback and special teams player Ryan Keomaka might be available after coming back from an ankle sprain incurred at practice last week.
While the defense is still dealing with several injuries, the offense is healthier despite some minor ailments.
Starting guards Hercules Satele and John Estes participated in yesterday's full-pad session, as did receivers Ian Sample, Ross Dickerson and Aaron Bain.
Satele (knee), Estes (knee), Sample (hamstring), Dickerson (hip) and Bain (food poisoning) were all held out of Tuesday's practice as a precaution, but are all expected to play Saturday.
"We kind of knew they were going to be OK, so they got some reps today," coach June Jones said.
Ryan Grice-Mullins, who injured an ankle at Boise State three weeks ago, is the only offensive player on the two-deep unlikely to be available Saturday. He tried to run yesterday without much success.
With a 1-4 record, Fresno State might not have a sellout for its homecoming game. But Jones said it won't matter how many people are at 41,031-seat Bulldogs Stadium.
"They're going to be loud regardless how many are there and we're going to have to overcome the crowd noise," Jones said.
The Warriors were scheduled to practice this morning at UH and spend tonight in Ontario, Calif.
They arrive in Fresno tomorrow.