QB still in question
McMackin says he'll have to see if Rausch's arm is OK; if it's not, Alexander will start
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The Hawaii football team embarked on its season-opening road trip to Florida today with doubt surrounding the starting quarterback job.
Coach Greg McMackin said after today's practice that the call on who will take the first snaps of the season when the Warriors face No. 5 Florida on Saturday "could be a game-time decision."
Junior Greg Alexander took the majority of the repetitions in practice this morning and could start against the Gators at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.
"I'm going to have that mind-set that you always have to be ready and always prepared and just get ready to go and do my job," Alexander said.
Sophomore Brent Rausch was named the starter about two weeks into fall camp, but rested a sore arm over the weekend. He was first in the rotation for yesterday's light practice, but backed up Alexander today, throwing mostly short passes.
"I gotta see if his arm's OK," McMackin said of Rausch. "If both are playing good, it could be a game-time decision."
McMackin said Alexander and Rausch are the top two quarterbacks, followed by junior Inoke Funaki.
The Warriors had their final practice at home this morning and were to depart for Atlanta this afternoon. They'll work out at Georgia Tech tomorrow and Thursday before heading down to Gainesville.
Senior Tyler Graunke made his first appearance at practice yesterday after becoming academically eligible, but will not make the trip.
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CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Tyler Graunke, in uniform again, spent some quality time with coach Greg McMackin.
A day before jetting to the mainland came a morning of happy returns for the Hawaii football team.
Among the Warriors back at practice yesterday were two quarterbacks — one who had missed two days and the other, the entire training camp — and a leader in the middle of the defense.
Sophomore quarterback Brent Rausch was back running the first offense during the Warriors' light practice session yesterday morning after resting a sore arm over the weekend, and senior quarterback Tyler Graunke made his first appearance of the season, decked out in his orange No. 6 jersey.
Linebacker Solomon Elimimian was back in drills with the defense following a week off due to an ankle injury, though he is now slated to start at outside linebacker after earning all-conference accolades as an inside linebacker last season.
Although Rausch returned after missing the last two practices with a strain in his throwing arm, UH head coach Greg McMackin said the starting quarterback job "could be a game-time decision."
Rausch took part in throwing drills and worked with the first team yesterday as the Warriors began game-week preparations for Saturday's opener at No. 5 Florida.
But the rotation changed this morning when Greg Alexander took the majority of the snaps with the first-team with Rausch backing him up.
"I'm going to play the guy that gives us the best chance to win, period," said McMackin, who indicated both Alexander and Rausch could see action in the game, but not in a rotation.
Graunke appeared to be the heir to the starting job after Colt Brennan completed his career last season, but ran into academic difficulties over the summer and recently became eligible to compete.
Graunke, who will not make the trip to Florida and declined comment yesterday, was greeted with high-fives and hugs from his teammates as he joined the quarterbacks in drills. He was an observer when the offense, led by Rausch, Greg Alexander and Inoke Funaki, worked against the scout team.
"We're really happy about that, that he gets to play his senior year," McMackin said. "But he's got to fit into the program. We've been out here since Aug. 4 and he's a little bit behind."
As far as Graunke getting back into the mix in the quarterback competition, "later on down the line, if he can get some reps and show that he's a leader and get back with the team, then we'll evaluate it," McMackin said.
"I'm just glad he has a chance for himself. It's been a hard grind on him and he got himself eligible and that's a step in the right direction. We're in this thing to work with kids, so I don't hold any grudges or anything. I just hope that things work out for him."
Elimimian, the Warriors' leading tackler last season and the preseason Western Athletic Conference defensive player of the year, worked at both inside and outside linebacker in his return.
"My ankle's feeling a lot better, I'm a lot healthier and I thank God, because you take football for granted sometimes," Elimimian said. "I'm blessed to be on the field, I'm just blessed to be back at practice."
Junior Brashton Satele has moved into the starting role at inside linebacker since Elimimian shifted outside after Blaze Soares suffered a calf injury. Elimimian is listed as the starter at Buck linebacker opposite Stub linebacker Adam Leonard.
"Brashton gives us that big body in the middle, and Solly's good enough where he can play both inside and out, but it gives us a pretty good rotation with all our 'backers," linebackers coach Cal Lee said. "This camp was real good where we could play a lot of people and the experience they gained during this camp is going to be valuable this season."
"Brashton's been doing a great job in the middle and coach thought it would be best for me to play outside," said Elimimian, who has a streak of 24 consecutive starts. "It's been good and Coach Cal's doing a great job in helping me come along and make the transition."
Satele's playing time has been limited mostly to special teams his first two seasons at UH, and said working with the first team in camp has him feeling more comfortable as Saturday's game approaches.
"I feel confident in my play calls, confident in my reads," Satele said. "I feel like I can play faster now that I know the defense better getting those reps."