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'Aussie' makes first start for UH vs. Louisiana Tech


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POSTED: Sunday, September 27, 2009

Compared to backs and receivers, offensive linemen already live an anonymous existence.

For Hawaii junior Adrian Thomas, name recognition is even a little trickier.

Tagged with a moniker upon arriving from Sydney, Thomas answers to “;Aussie”; more often than his given name when he's around his Warriors teammates.

“;Some of the new guys, they don't even know my first name,”; Thomas said.

Thomas will take a more prominent role this week, slated to make his first career start at right tackle when the Warriors open their Western Athletic Conference schedule at Louisiana Tech in a nationally televised game Wednesday.

               

     

 

HAWAII (2-1) AT LOUISIANA TECH (1-2)

        When: 2:05 p.m. Wednesday
       

TV/Radio: ESPN2/KKEA, 1420-AM

       

Last meeting: Oct. 11, 2008. Hawaii won, 24-14, at Aloha Stadium.

       

 

       

UH coaches said Thomas will start in place of Laupepa Letuli, who will miss the game due to a knee injury. Junior Kainoa LaCount could also see his first action of the season at that spot.

While offensive linemen aren't often the focus of attention, the UH reserves have spent the first three games in the shadows with the starting five playing nearly every snap. But the reserves are often reminded how quickly that can change.

“;When you're a backup offensive lineman you've got to be preparing yourself as if you're going into the game as a starter because it could happen in one play,”; UH offensive line coach Gordy Shaw said, “;and you've got to be out there and you don't want to let your team down, you don't want to let your teammates down.

“;In a lot of ways, it's a more difficult task because you're not getting the physical reps, you're only getting the mental reps.”;

Growing up in Australia, soccer and rugby were Thomas' primary interests as a youngster. He was introduced to football by his father at 14, playing both sides of the line, before gravitating to offense.

“;Rugby's the mainstream sport, so that was something different and I think that intrigued me,”; Thomas said.

Still, he was a relatively raw prospect when Paul Manera—a former UH lineman from Australia—pointed UH assistants George Lumpkin and Wes Suan in his direction during a coaches clinic.

“;The thing was he ran well for a big guy and all his numbers were good, his 40 time and vertical jump,”; Lumpkin said. “;I trusted Paul, because Paul knew what we needed to play at the University of Hawaii.”;

Lumpkin brought back a tape for then-offensive line coach Mike Cavanaugh, who completed the recruiting process shortly before leaving UH for Oregon State. (”;He was running in the sand, he was going up mountains,”; Lumpkin recalled.)

Thomas, now listed at 6-foot-6 and 310 pounds, redshirted in 2006 and spent the last two seasons honing his technique, and his nimble feet remain one of his strengths.

“;We've been playing him at both guard and tackle just because he was our sixth-best offensive lineman and we wanted to make sure he could play either position in case we had an injury,”; Shaw said. “;He struggled a little (Friday), but I thought he had a really good practice today.

“;He's one of those guys who can play inside or outside. He's big enough to play inside, but moves well enough to be outside and play tackle.”;

After three years of patience and preparation, his first true test comes Wednesday in Ruston.

“;It's not exactly the best way,”; Thomas said of moving into the lineup due to an injury, “;but any chance I get, I'm excited to take it and take up the challenge.”;

Daily-Lyles steps in

Over the last few days, George Daily-Lyles learned how quickly things can move in college football.

Earlier this week, the freshman linebacker was content to redshirt. Now he's on the travel list and ready to contribute against Louisiana Tech.

Aaron Brown's hamstring injury will keep him out of action, opening a spot for Daily-Lyles, who will play on special teams, along with providing depth at outside linebacker.

“;I was thinking about taking it slow,”; Daily-Lyles said. “;Right now it's 'all in.' Get this stuff under my belt and when game time comes I'll be ready.

“;I've changed it up from taking it slow to hitting it hard.”;

The graduate of Long Beach Poly will play on the kickoff, kickoff return and punt return teams.

“;We've been thinking about him for special teams, but with this linebacker position opening up, now there's a place for him,”; UH head coach Greg McMackin said.