CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Greg Alexander splits reps as Hawaii's No. 2 quarterback with Inoke Funaki. Brent Rausch was named the starter last week.
Backup QBs stay ready for anything
Although Hawaii's quarterback race has been settled, the resolution doesn't mean the competitiveness has seeped from the group.
For the Hawaii quarterbacks not named Brent Rausch, playing the backup role means taking fewer snaps in practice, but "the mind-set stays the same," junior Greg Alexander said.
"You try to compete your best every day, try to get yourself better. You never know what's going to happen," Alexander said. "We all want to see each other do well. We're all competing, but we're all good friends too, so we want to see each other succeed."
Alexander and fellow junior Inoke Funaki have been sharing the second line on the depth chart since Rausch was named the Warriors' starting quarterback last week. The hierarchy means Rausch takes most of the repetitions in 7-on-7 and team drills, with Funaki and Alexander rotating in for a couple of plays each.
Alexander returned to the field yesterday after sitting out the last two practices with a foot injury and was impressive in a 2-minute drill, going 4-for-4 in marching the offense downfield in his turn at the controls.
"You're never sure how guys are going to react," UH quarterback coach Nick Rolovich said of the meeting last Thursday when the candidates were informed of the decision. "It really wasn't how they were going to react that very second, but how they were going to react in the next few days. But you look at the next few days and they both came out and worked hard. Greg just came back (yesterday) and put in as much effort as he ever has."
Although all three entered camp entertaining thoughts of leading the Warriors into the opener on Aug. 30, the backups remain focused on being prepared rather than dwelling on the decision.
"You've got to move on," Funaki said. "If you just sit there and mope around about it, it's not going to help anyone. You're not going to help yourself, you're not going to help the team.
"It's the coaches' decision and (Rausch has) been doing a good job - they both have, they're coming along great. You can't be upset that someone's doing well, especially on your own team. The only thing you have control over is trying to progress with whatever reps you might have."
The quarterbacks bonded over the summer when Rausch and Alexander arrived early to participate in voluntary workouts and Rausch credited Funaki with teaching him the offense.
"We're a tight-knit group, we all have fun together," Funaki said. "It's good that there's no contention between our group."
Funaki said he'll continue to help Rausch adapt to the offense, but added "he's been coming along just fine, he probably doesn't even need my thoughts or suggestions."
As for the new competition for the backup spot, the role figures to be a shared duty for the time being.
"The other two guys are dead even, but they have different characteristics," Rolovich said. "Where Greg slides around the pocket, stands in there and throws it, Inoke can take off and run on you and make the throws. I can see us using them both as No. 2 in different games. It's a nice problem to have."
The Warriors quarterback group also includes senior Jake Santos and freshmen Shane Austin and Steele Jantz, whose role over the next two weeks will be to simulate Florida's Tim Tebow on the scout team.
"(Santos and Austin) know a lot and they're familiar with the offense and Jake's a great student of the game," Funaki said.