CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM
The Warriors' Laupepa Letuli, right, returned to left tackle for yesterday's no-pads practice.
Warriors, Spartans thin on front line
While injuries have kept Hawaii's offensive line in a constant state of flux, the Warriors will get little sympathy from San Jose State, which has dealt with protection issues of its own over its first four games.
Which line comes together more effectively this week figures to play a vital role in deciding Saturday's Western Athletic Conference opener for both teams at Aloha Stadium.
"Theme of the season," UH offensive line coach Brian Smith said of the lineup shuffles. "That would be nice, to have the same five for more than a week."
UH is still adjusting to the loss of senior Keith AhSoon, who started at guard and tackle, to a knee injury which will keep him out for most of the WAC schedule.
Starting right tackle Keoni Steinhoff sat out yesterday's practice due to a broken finger, but Steinhoff and Smith still expect him to practice today and be ready on Saturday.
In the meantime, sophomore Adrian Thomas took the first-team repetitions at right tackle with Aaron Kia getting some work there as well yesterday.
Laupepa Letuli returned to action at left tackle for the no-pads practice after missing the last two games with a shoulder injury, splitting time with Kia.
"He looked OK considering he missed a couple of weeks ... now he has to clean some of the rust off and get his technique back going," Smith said.
"(Today) will be a big day, we'll get him in some shoulder pads, we'll get some reps against the defense and we'll have a much better idea exactly where he is."
Smith said Brysen Ginlack and Raphael Ieru will split snaps at left guard and expects both to play against the Spartans.
San Jose State, meanwhile, is slated to start four sophomores along the front after yielding eight sacks in last week's 23-10 loss at Stanford. The Spartans have been without veterans Fred Koloto, Justin Paysinger and Robbie Castillo due to injuries.
"We're just in a day-to-day situation because they have back ailments that are really bothersome," SJSU coach Dick Tomey said during yesterday's WAC coaches teleconference. "We're just trying to manage all of that. We'd love to have them available all the time but for us that's not the real world."
Spartans receiver out
Tomey said receiver Kevin Jurovich
(mononucleosis) isn't practicing and could seek a medical redshirt if he doesn't return in the next few weeks. Jurovich, a preseason All-WAC pick, had 15 catches for 183 yards and a touchdown in the Spartans' first two games. He had two touchdown receptions in last year's 42-35 overtime loss to the Warriors last season.
Along with being a prominent figure in the UH program's past, Tomey is familiar with the current leader of the Warriors offense.
UH quarterback Tyler Graunke is a graduate of Salpoint Catholic High School in Tucson, Ariz., the same school Tomey's children attended when he coached at Arizona.
"I know him very well," Tomey said. "They have a skilled, tough quarterback who had a lot to do with the season they had last year."