Mouton cautious returning from injury
Ryan Mouton is expected to help 16th-ranked Hawaii (7-0, 4-0 WAC) sprint to the end of what the Warriors hope will be a perfect season. The question is if Mouton will be able to do so beginning Saturday against New Mexico State (4-4, 1-2), and if the dynamic junior cornerback can do so at close to full speed coming off a knee injury.
"It's one of those situations you have to be careful with," UH defensive backs coach Rich Miano said. "Is he healthy enough to help you? Is he going to re-injure it? Is the bye week going to help? It's not my call, but it's nice to have him out here because he's a talent and he can help us down the stretch. We just don't know if the stretch starts Saturday or two weeks from now."
Mouton practiced yesterday and said he felt "comfortable" afterwards. Defensive coordinator Greg McMackin said he looked "good," but he and head coach June Jones weren't expected to decide if Mouton will play Saturday until after today's practice, at the earliest.
"We just put him in some nickel situations and didn't want to push too much the first day," McMackin said.
Mouton tore the posterior cruciate ligament in his right knee in the Sept. 29 victory at Idaho. The junior from Katy, Texas, has two touchdowns this season -- one on an interception return and another on a kickoff return. If he were to play Saturday, it would add to the secondary depth against New Mexico State, which likes to throw as much as Hawaii does -- a lot.
Mouton said he won't rush his return unnecessarily, especially with an off-week before UH hosts Fresno State on Nov. 10.
"I'm just trying to get used to being out here again. I feel comfortable, but not 100 percent. About 85," Mouton said. "I know if I play Saturday it's probably going to be limited. It would be good to take advantage of an extra week. I would like to see where I'm at in a game-time situation, but I'm not worried about it."
If he does return kicks again, it won't be until later in the season.