Hawaii defense ahead in little contest with Colt
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Solomon Elimimian made it three WAC Defensive Player of the Week awards in four weeks for Hawaii yesterday.
"Defensively, our goal is to get more than Colt, so that's good. I'm just joking," Elimimian said after yesterday's practice.
The score is: Hawaii defense 3, quarterback Colt Brennan 2.
Elimimian, a junior linebacker, made 20 tackles in Saturday's 52-37 victory over Utah State and wrapped up his second such honor in three weeks. Cornerback Myron Newberry took the award last week, after intercepting two passes in a win at Idaho.
Two Fresno State players got the offensive and special teams awards this week: running back Ryan Mathews and kick returner A.J. Jefferson.
Elimimian's tackle total was three off the school record set by Eddie Klaneski. It's also the most by any WAC player this year, and Elimimian is third in the nation in tackles per game at 12.17 per game.
But Elimimian said he played far from a perfect game Saturday. He said he missed three or four tackles, and he also dropped a possible interception that he could have run all the way back for a score.
"I was thinking about the plays I should've made all morning Sunday," he said. "The thing about football is you can always get better."
Unbeaten UH needs to do exactly that as the opponents get tougher in the second half of the season.
Monday was Tuesday for the No. 16 Warriors (6-0, 3-0 WAC), as they have a short week to prepare for a nationally televised game at San Jose State (3-3, 2-0) on Friday.
Usually Monday is conditioning day, but yesterday the Warriors had a regular practice. Brennan (ankle) and defensive tackle Mike Lafaele (hamstring) both practiced with the first team and expect to play Friday.
Hawaii players who have won the WAC player of the week award this season:
Week 6: Solomon Elimimian, defense
Week 5: Myron Newberry, defense
Week 4: None
Week 3: Solomon Elimimian, defense
Week 2: Colt Brennan, offense, and Dan Kelly, special teams
Week 1: Colt Brennan, offense
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Dane Kealoha Porlas is getting an opportunity this week at the same stadium where he made his biggest impact as a Hawaii football player.
Porlas, who made a victory-clinching interception at San Jose State two years ago, has been elevated to first team in schemes requiring five defensive backs by UH defensive coordinator Greg McMackin for Friday's road game against the Spartans.
The junior walk-on competed last spring for the vacant safety spot when Leonard Peters matriculated, but Keao Monteilh and Desmond Thomas got the job, and Porlas' duty so far has been limited to special teams and mop-up.
Yesterday he took Thomas' place in the formations utilizing five DBs, going in at safety with Jake Patek while Monteilh moves to nickel back.
"We haven't given up on Desmond," McMackin said. "We're just trying to get some competition going."
The Warriors (6-0, 3-0 WAC) gave up their longest pass play of the season in Saturday's 52-37 win over Utah State. In addition to the 77-yard pass from Leon Jackson III to Kevin Robinson, UH also fell victim to a double-pass trick play to Robinson. That would've been a 57-yard TD, but Utah State was called for a delay of game penalty.
"I'm just coming in in some situations and I'll do my best to fill the spot," said Porlas, who is listed at 5-foot-10 and 186 pounds. "(Thomas) played real well last game, so it's kind of shocking I'm getting this opportunity now."
Porlas laughed when asked if he thought McMackin (who wasn't at UH two years ago) knew of his history at Spartan Stadium.
"I highly doubt that," Porlas said. "I don't think Coach McMackin is thinking about the past. I think he's thinking of right now."
Porlas, then a freshman, intercepted a pass by current Spartans quarterback Adam Tafralis with 55 seconds left to seal the Warriors' 45-38 victory.
"That was so exciting, I was stoked to play and be able to contribute. Hopefully I can step up and do the same this game," Porlas said after yesterday's practice.
Porlas grew up in San Diego, but his father, Thad, is Hawaiian and the family roots are in Kalihi. Dane spent time as a youngster visiting relatives in the islands and developing an affection for UH football.
"It's always been kind of a dream, to play for Hawaii," he said. "I was a fan of two schools, the other school ... Notre Dame."
Porlas laughed again when it was pointed out the Fighting Irish aren't enjoying much success this season.
"That's not nice," Porlas said. "I still like them."
He also plays on the kickoff, kickoff return and punt return teams.
Ryan Mouton's sprained knee is another reason Porlas can expect to see more action in the secondary. Coach June Jones said Mouton will be out for a second consecutive game. The valuable special teams player was also the Warriors' nickel back and rotated in with starting corners Gerard Lewis and Myron Newberry.
Mouton could be back for the New Mexico State game following the bye after the San Jose State game.
The news was better regarding team leaders Colt Brennan and Mike Lafaele. As expected, both returned to practice yesterday and both promise to play Friday.
Quarterback Brennan aggravated his sprained ankle Saturday and played just one half. But he moved well yesterday and his passes didn't seem to be affected by the lingering injury.
"He looked good today," Jones said. "That's the history with ankles. When you re-injure them they don't really hurt that bad."
Defensive tackle Lafaele has played through all kinds of injuries in his UH career, and it took a coach's decision Saturday to stop his consecutive starts streak at 28 because of a strained hamstring. Jones said it will be Lafaele's choice this week.
"It's up to him at this point how much pain he can stand," Jones said. "It's a pain deal, and it usually takes three to five weeks, but sooner if a guy's tough."
Lafaele, who suffered the injury 11 days ago at Idaho, ran with the first team yesterday and his lateral movement seemed normal.
"It's pretty good," said Lafaele, who wore a brace on his knee. "Just got to hold it up for this game."