Hawaii quarterback Inoke Funaki was run out of bounds by Florida cornerback Jacques Rickerson during the second half on Saturday in Gainesville, Fla.
Funaki takes it all in stride
Inoke Funaki knows there's a bit of attention that accompanies the role as Hawaii's starting quarterback, and he doesn't mind the cameras and interviews.
"In football things don't always go the way you planned it and you have to have a positive outlook and continue to try to be better and help those around you."
But once he leaves the field - which can take a while since he's often among the last to head to the locker room after practice - he doesn't pay much regard to the hubbub that often comes with the position.
"Everybody has their opinion on what goes on, and what goes on in the media and what other people say or what other people think, you have no control over that," Funaki said after the Warriors' practice yesterday. "So I just try to take care of what I do have control over."
Funaki isn't exactly plugged in away from the field; his commitments to church, school and the Warriors leave few free moments for TV, poring over the sports pages or surfing the Internet.
If he had perused those outlets, he would have gotten a healthy dose of his own mug since being named the starting quarterback for Hawaii's home opener against Weber State on Saturday at Aloha Stadium.
"I never really have time to get around to sitting down and watching TV," said Funaki, who's slated to make his first start since high school when Hawaii (0-1) faces the Wildcats (1-0) of the Big Sky Conference.
"Sometimes I'll talk to some of the boys and they'll be all upset about something they read on the Internet. I just don't really go on the computer at all. I don't even have a MySpace or Facebook (page). I guess I'm old-fashioned you could say."
Funaki is the third quarterback to top the depth chart since the second week of fall camp, following transfers Brent Rausch and Greg Alexander, who started last week's opener at Florida.
He was third in the order heading into The Swamp and was effective in his fourth-quarter appearance, going 8-for-11 for 110 yards with an interception and UH's first touchdown of the season.
His athleticism helped him escape pressure and he showed some zip on his throws in moving the team to scores on two possessions in the 56-10 loss in Gainesville.
But the physical attributes are just part of the equation.
"I think his personality is his greatest asset," quarterbacks coach Nick Rolovich said. "He's as good a teammate as I've ever been around and I would have loved for him to be my teammate when I played.
"You never see him real high or low, he's pretty level-headed. When you tell him something and you look him in the eye you can see him processing what you're saying."
Funaki's perspective comes partly from a background that includes two years as a missionary in the Dominican Republic following graduation from Kahuku, where he led the Red Raiders to two state titles.
The 25-year-old calls the experience "a university for life," and said many of the lessons gleaned in the mission field translate to life as a Division I quarterback.
"It teaches you to grow up and be more mature and handle situations," Funaki said. "When I was out there, there were people who didn't like us, they'd chase us away, say mean things. ... You have to learn to continue to have faith and continue to push forward and be positive about the whole thing.
"In football, things don't always go the way you planned it and you have to have a positive outlook and continue to try to be better and help those around you."
As Funaki prepares for his first collegiate start this week, he's not anticipating an easy night against Weber State, a Football Championship Subdivision (formerly Division I-AA) member that includes 10 Hawaii products on its roster.
"They have a good team and they're going to come with fire," he said. "Especially with the local boys they have. This is their home too and they have something to prove."