SB FILE / 2007
Erik Robinson will be the Warriors' starting strong safety in the opener Saturday at No. 5 Florida.
Offensive line tunes up for Gators
's protective front is set.
The Warriors' offensive line lined up yesterday for the first time with the five men position coach Brian Smith intends to deploy at The Swamp on Saturday -- center John Estes, guards Keith AhSoon (left) and Lafu Tuioti-Mariner (right) and tackles Laupepa Letuli (left) and Keoni Steinhoff (right).
The surprise was the lurking Letuli over Aaron Kia, who had been taking the first-team reps throughout fall camp.
"I wasn't expecting anything, just getting ready for the game and Coach just told me you're with the first team," said Letuli, a 6-foot-3, 290-pound junior. "I think they wanted to see how I was with the starting players and the different fronts that they give us. I just have to be mentally ready for this game."
Letuli, a reserve lineman in all 13 games last season, shook off a hip injury that held him out of several practices during camp.
"Coming into camp (starting) is what I was looking at," he said. "Aaron Kia's a really good player and I had to work hard to get a spot, and I'm always looking ahead to starting on Saturdays."
Ray Hisatake had been taking reps with the first team at right guard while Tuioti-Mariner rested a calf injury, and Smith confirmed Hisatake proved himself enough during that span to warrant playing time against fifth-ranked Florida.
Expect a seven-man rotation at the minimum.
"That's the group I'm planning on going with," Smith said. "Kia's going to play a bunch left, and some right, too. I'm planning on Ray getting in and playing. And we'll see from there."
Robinson moves up
After a slow start, Erik Robinson
showed some good closing speed in camp.
Robinson eased into practices while he continued to recover from a shoulder injury he suffered last season, but has come on lately to claim the strong safety job.
"I have more confidence and the coaches are starting to have more confidence in me, too," Robinson said. "As far as plays ... I ran that last year. It was more getting my rhythm back and getting my confidence back and getting my swagger back."
Mana Silva had been working with the first unit until last week when Robinson moved into the lineup.
"He's done a great job of taking notes, studying his playbook, looking at film, all the intangible things," defensive backs coach Rich Miano said. "He's been there, played against Georgia, played against Washington. He was really coming on at the end of the season. It's not gonna be too big for him. And we just feel like, (him) being a senior, being conscientious, he's gonna do a good job for us."
Keao Monteilh is slated to start at free safety and Miano said Desmond Thomas will also be in the rotation this week. So will Silva, who will be playing his first game for the Warriors.
"Mana is going to get into the game, too and get his feet wet, so to speak," Miano said. "He's gonna get baptized, and it's a great baptismal when you go to The Swamp."
Change of scenery
's practice jersey remained the standard quarterback orange yesterday. The only difference was the redshirt freshman was suddenly subject to the verbal wrath of running backs coach Alex Gerke
Kalau'oka'a'ea, who rejoined the team on the first day of the fall semester, was informed that he'd be changing positions by quarterbacks coach Nick Rolovich just before the team took to the grass practice field.
"There's too many quarterbacks, so they put me there," the Castle graduate said. "That was by surprise, there was some talk that I would go to defense. Oh, it was a big change."
The fiery Gerke wasted no time lambasting the newcomer during drills.
"He pushes everybody, even players who aren't at his position," Kalau'oka'a'ea said. "That's the kind of coach he is, and it's good motivation."
Senior Alonzo Chopp also rejoined the platoon of running backs with the expanded roster. Jake Heun, out since the first week of camp with a back injury, is working his way back and participated in drills yesterday.