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Warriors can take no team lightly


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POSTED: Monday, August 31, 2009

John Estes was still in high school back in 2004. But he points to Hawaii's opener that fall as a cautionary tale for the current Warriors.

“;In 2004 we lost to (Florida Atlantic) and we had a pretty good team,”; Estes said. “;We had good players, but if you're not ready to play you're going to get your (butt) kicked.”;

The Owls were in their first year of Division I membership that season, having just moved up from I-AA, and stunned the Warriors—led by Tim Chang and Chad Owens—in overtime at Aloha Stadium.

Some five years later the Warriors are preparing for a Central Arkansas team that is a relative newcomer to the Football Championship Subdivision (formerly I-AA), but has quickly developed a reputation to draw a No. 12 national ranking in the FCS preseason coaches poll.

True, Central Arkansas doesn't exactly jump off the page the way Florida (UH's season-opening opponent last year) or USC (the 2010 opener) might. But the Warriors began their game-week preparations yesterday firmly focused on the Bears of the Southland Conference.

               

     

 

HAWAII VS. FCS (I-AA)

        Since 1999
       

1999: Eastern Illinois, W, 31-27

       

2000: Portland State, L, 45-20

       

2001: Montana, W, 30-12

       

2002: Eastern Illinois, W, 61-36

       

2003: Appalachian State, W, 40-17

       

2006: Eastern Illinois, W, 44-9

       

2007: Northern Colorado, W, 63-6

       

2007: Charleston Southern, W, 66-10

       

2008: Weber State, W, 36-17

       

 

       

“;There's more attention to detail,”; Estes said. “;We've had the whole summer to prepare for them, so we have to get a good week of work in and it started today. Now we're ready to roll.”;

Estes returned to practice yesterday after sitting out three days last week with a bruised shin, ready to jump back in at center and prepare for the opening game of his senior season.

“;Fresh legs,”; Estes said after the team's no-pads practice. “;I'm a little banged up, but I've been a lot more hurt before and I played.”;

Hawaii has played nine games against FCS schools since 1999, most of its eight wins coming by comfortable margins. The exception was the 45-20 season-opening loss to Portland State in 2000.

Last year, the Warriors got a scare from Weber State, trailing by 10 at halftime before rallying for a 36-17 win.

Central Arkansas went 10-2 last season, finishing 12th in the FCS poll. But the Bears remain ineligible for postseason play and the Southland title while still in the transition period in moving up from Division II.

The Bears are replacing four of their top weapons in an offense that averaged 37.5 points per game last season, but return most of their top performers on defense.

“;I think they're a dangerous team,”; UH head coach Greg McMackin said. “;What stands out is their athleticism, they have good schemes and they're well coached.”;

The Warriors have been competing with and against each other since losing to Notre Dame in the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl last Christmas Eve. And after grinding through spring practice, summer conditioning and fall camp, the seniors are looking to set the tone for the final four practices before facing the Bears on Friday in their lone appearance at Aloha Stadium this month.

“;Their guys are Division I caliber. We have to make sure we're on top of our game and work from there,”; said linebacker and tri-captain R.J. Kiesel-Kauhane.

“;Once we set the foundation for the mood at practice it kind of continues to everybody. So if we provide a sense of urgency to these younger guys, they can follow where we're coming from.”;

 

Backup watch

McMackin said a decision on the backup to starting quarterback Greg Alexander is close. Junior Brent Rausch and sophomore Bryant Moniz have been splitting the backup snaps in practice over the last week.

“;Brent took most of the reps today, but we're going to make up our mind today or tomorrow,”; McMackin said. “;Greg will get the majority (of the reps in practice), and the second guy will get plenty, but we like all three of them.”;

 

Injury update

Defensive end John Fonoti sat out of Friday's practice and again yesterday. Fonoti and safety Mana Silva have been nursing nagging injuries lately but are expected to be ready for the game.

“;They had little nicks, so we're just treating them pro-style trying to get them feeling real good for (Friday's game),”; McMackin said.

Cornerback Tank Hopkins remained sidelined as Lametrius Davis worked with the first team at left cornerback.