CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Brent Rausch is expected to be named Hawaii's starting quarterback today. UH opens its season Aug. 30 at Florida.
Rausch wins quarterback derby, but the real test comes Aug. 30
Brent Rausch just engineered his first great comeback as a University of Hawaii quarterback.
A lost puppy last week, all of a sudden he's the big dog.
Make that The Man.
He went from no-name to the name in a couple of practices.
The Warriors starting quarterback is the most prominent athlete in Hawaii sports. It's always been a huge deal.
Now it's even bigger since Tim Chang and Colt Brennan broke NCAA records, and in Brennan's case, was judged the third most outstanding player in all of college football.
Coach Greg McMackin wouldn't name Rausch yesterday as the starter, but he gave enough hints that even the worst "Clue" player could figure it out.
Mr. Rausch did it in the 2-minute drill. With the golden arm.
Even Rausch admitted yesterday he thought himself the odd-man out last week in a two-way battle between Inoke Funaki and Greg Alexander.
Then, last Thursday, something clicked.
"I dropped back and I saw everything," Rausch said. "Everything started moving. I was picking out my safeties I needed to see, my outside linebackers. It was clicking. I was seeing what I needed to see."
It became a three-man race again. And it ended yesterday with Rausch the apparent winner.
You know that horse race/squirt gun game at the carnival? That's what this QB derby was like. As many days as not, someone drew even or moved ahead because the previous leader couldn't get enough water in the puka. Rausch took some time to find his mark, but once he did, he was locked in and he flooded it.
McMackin's biggest clue was saying the chosen one kept improving. Funaki and Alexander rarely strung two strong sessions back-to-back. Rausch had his uneven moments, especially last week, but once he got his confidence ...
"Yeah, I think there's one guy that's gotten better every day. Some guys have gone up and taken a step back," McMackin said. "We have a guy who, I think, is gonna continue to get better. And we made that decision. It's not an easy decision. But we're confident in it. I just want to talk to the players first."
They had to know already. Rausch guided the Warriors down the field twice yesterday in 2-minute drills, with poise and efficiency.
"I thought he played very well," McMackin said. "Today was our best practice. Our tempo ... we have a chance to be a good football team."
Rausch has three years to play, Alexander and Funaki just two apiece. This choice is about 2010 as much as about Aug. 30.
Things went pretty well in 2005 when the Warriors put a JC transfer sophomore in at QB. Brennan scrambled around and made a lot of plays that first year, and, well, you know the rest.
Early on, everyone could see Brennan had it -- an uncommon combination of game and grit that took the Warriors to undreamed of heights.
The first time Rausch threw footballs at UH, last May, this skinny kid from SoCal was so accurate, he drew comparisons to you-know-who.
So now, Brent Rausch, you're it.
We'll see if you have it.