Mouton’s knee expected to keep him out at least 2 games
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The Hawaii football season has been almost all good news so far, with the Warriors winning their first five games and climbing to an unprecedented No. 15 in a major poll.
But UH got a downer yesterday when the team learned that talented cornerback and kick returner Ryan Mouton will miss two or three games with a torn knee ligament. The injury doesn't require surgery.
On the plus side, starting wide receiver Jason Rivers (back) returned to practice, and quarterback Colt Brennan (ankle) looked like he was returning form. Brennan also said he planned to cut his hair back to a conventional style after experimenting first with dreadlocks and then with a map of the Hawaiian Islands dyed into the side of his head.
"I don't think I'll be jinxing anything by changing it now," Brennan said.
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Hawaii junior cornerback and special teams player Ryan Mouton is expected to miss at least the next two games with a sprained knee, the results of an MRI revealed yesterday. The Blinn (Texas) Junior College transfer suited up during yesterday's morning practice, but did not participate in drills.
The 16th ranked Warriors (5-0, 2-0 WAC) host Utah State (0-5, 0-1) at Aloha Stadium on Saturday.
Mouton -- who rotated in at both corners for Gerard Lewis and Myron Newberry -- has emerged as one of the team's defensive leaders, returning an interception against UNLV for a touchdown. He also scored on a 90-yard kickoff return for a score against Charleston Southern.
"He's a big-time talent on special teams and as a defensive back," secondary coach Rich Miano said. "You can get pretty thin back there."
Defensive coordinator Greg McMackin said Mouton will be missed, but expects him to be ready for the Warriors' stretch run.
"Fortunately he's not going to have surgery," McMackin said.
Sophomore J.P. Davis will replace Mouton at left corner with Keenan Jones moving up to No. 2 on the right. Safety Keao Monteilh will replace Mouton as the nickel back, with safety Desmond Thomas filling Monteilh's spot.
Davis worked his way in for 14 downs in the Warriors 48-20 win over Idaho, and fortified his position with the second-team defense during practice yesterday.
Miano said Newberry tweaked his knee late in the game, and needed a spell with Mouton already out. So Miano yelled out on the sidelines for a replacement. Davis answered the call.
"He was aggressive; he just didn't wrap on a couple of his tackles," Miano said. "But he knew what he was doing, he did a good job. He's still got a lot to learn ... his attitude is much better (and) he's got a lot of talent, and he's going to help us. Not immediately, (but) definitely down the road."
Keenan Jones replaced Mouton on kickoff returns after the injury Saturday.
Senior wideout Jason Rivers
returned to full drills yesterday after sitting out the last two weeks of practice with a strained lower back. He split repetitions at his usual left position with freshman Greg Salas
on downs thrown by quarterback Colt Brennan
, and ran routes with his usual efficiency.
"Sure does feel good," Rivers said. "I mean, two weeks without practice makes a big difference. Feels good to be running out here again, get my wind back ... going back with Colt and all the receivers again, get our chemistry going again."
Said receivers coach Ron Lee: "He's already had a great day today and he's got three more days. It's the timing (aspect to regain) -- it's not him -- it's with the quarterbacks and him."
Malcolm Lane, who started the last two games in place of Rivers, split some repetitions with C.J. Hawthorne at right wideout.
Coach June Jones said Rivers will start Saturday.
Hard on himself
Sophomore outside linebacker Blaze Soares
finally played a few downs Saturday at Idaho. He did not show up on the stat sheet, and did not meet his own expectations.
"I didn't do much," said Soares, a projected starter who didn't play until now because of hamstring and shoulder injuries. "I played real crappy. I practiced bad today, too. I'm very disappointed. I feel off, sloppy, not myself."
McMackin said Soares is just suffering from rust.
"He'll be fine. We'll continue to roll him in. He just needs to get the reps and he'll be faster," McMackin said. "We were just in (shells). He's not going to be happy until he makes some plays, and he'll get that chance (today) in full pads."
Brennan planned to shave his head yesterday, losing the now-blurred imprint of the Hawaiian Islands and reverting to the close-cropped look he had as a sophomore in 2005. ... Jones said freshman defensive lineman Vaughn Meatoga
will likely redshirt this season. ... Former UH safety Leonard Peters
was slated to sign with the Chicago Bears' practice squad after a physical exam today. Peters was signed as a free agent with the New York Jets before they released him.