COURTESY OF ESPN
Hawaii quarterback Colt Brennan will adorn the cover of ESPN The Magazine on Oct. 8. He is the first football player for the Warriors to receive this kind of national publicity.
Brennan says he’ll be ready
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Colt Brennan, who graces the cover of the Oct. 8 issue of ESPN The Magazine, is eagerly awaiting his return appearance in the Hawaii backfield on Saturday.
The Hawaii quarterback didn't run with the No. 19 Warriors yesterday but said he'll be ready for their Western Athletic Conference game at Idaho on Saturday after resting a sprained ankle against Charleston Southern last week.
But receiver Jason Rivers, who has been bothered by a strained back, may not be available. Rivers played in the first half of last Saturday's game despite not practicing in the days leading up to the 66-10 victory, but sat out the second half.
"We'll make adjustments that (Rivers is) not going to be there," UH coach June Jones said yesterday.
Jones said cornerback Ryan Mouton will have an MRI performed to examine the knee he hurt against Charleston Southern. He suffered the injury shortly after returning the opening kickoff of the second half for a touchdown to ignite UH's run of 45 unanswered points.
"He was walking around today," Jones said. "It sounds like it's minor, they just want to double check and make sure it's not more serious."
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Rivers may take Brennan’s seat on sideline
Colt Brennan appears ready to return, but one of the Hawaii quarterback's most productive targets may not be available when No. 19 Hawaii faces Idaho on Saturday.
UH coach June Jones said he'll form a game plan for the Warriors' road game against the Vandals with the assumption that receiver Jason Rivers won't be in the mix.
A strained back kept Rivers out of practice in the week leading up to last Saturday's 66-10 win over Charleston Southern. Although he didn't start the game, he caught three passes in the first half. But his pads were gone when the team came out for the second half.
"I feel bad for him in his senior year," Jones said yesterday at his weekly press conference. "He's getting (his back) looked at again. He tried to go, I probably should have held him out. So we'll make adjustments that he's not going to be there."
Rivers is tied for the team lead with 27 catches and ranks second with 357 yards and three touchdowns.
Sophomore Malcolm Lane made his first career start in Rivers' place at X receiver against Charleston Southern and caught four passes for 54 yards.
Lane had spent most of the season playing on the other side of the field, backing up C.J. Hawthorne at Z receiver.
"(Lane) made one or two errors but the more he plays the better he'll get," Jones said. "I like his acceleration, I like his speed. I've liked him since he was a freshman when he didn't really know what to do last year. That's why I played him, because I knew he was going to be a player."
Brennan didn't run with the team during yesterday morning's brief conditioning session and said his sprained right ankle still isn't 100 percent. He said he'll practice this week and be back in the lineup when the Warriors (4-0, 1-0 Western Athletic Conference) resume the league schedule at Idaho (1-3, 0-0).
Brennan, the nation's second-leading passer and upcoming ESPN The Magazine cover boy, missed a game for the first time in his UH career last week as Tyler Graunke and Inoke Funaki guided the Warriors offense.
The backups combined for 363 passing yards and five touchdowns against the Division I-AA Buccaneers.
"The good thing is it's rested and I'll be able to practice this week and I'll keep making sure I get to 100 percent by Saturday," Brennan said.
"It's obviously something I haven't experienced for a couple of years now," he said of spending a Saturday as a spectator. "But I'm glad it's over with, I'm glad I can come back this week and get back to playing football."
After further review ...
Graunke had his rough spots in his first start since 2005, but Jones came away pleased with the junior's overall performance in taking over for Brennan last week.
"I went back and looked at it, out of 36 throws he had three incompletions that were his fault," Jones said of Graunke, who completed 22 of those passes for 285 yards and three touchdowns.
With the UH offense not running as smoothly as usual in the first half, a portion of the crowd at Aloha Stadium voiced its displeasure.
"I didn't hear the booing, but it kind of appalls me that that would happen to one of our kids," Jones said.
Hawaii's offense remains at the top of the national statistics, ranking second in passing and scoring offense. Now Brennan and crew have company in the upper reaches of the charts.
The Warriors have run two kickoffs back for touchdowns and enter the week third in Division I at 32.4 yards per return. Lane returned a kickoff 94 yards against Northern Colorado, and Ryan Mouton sparked the Warriors last week by returning the opening kickoff of the second half 90 yards for a score.
UH has three kick/punt returns for touchdowns this season after posting just one over the previous two years -- Ross Dickerson's 100-yard return to open last season's 68-10 win over Idaho.
The Warriors also enter the week third nationally in net punting (41.9 yards per punt) and 12th in punt returns (16.8). Mike Washington is second in the country in punt returns, based largely on his 80-yard touchdown in the opener.
"I said before the season that we're more talented athletically than we've ever been in our backups. That's why they're playing so well," Jones said. "The kids are taking a lot of pride and Dennis (McKnight) and Jeff (Reinebold) and Rich Miano do a great job with the special teams."