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UH D-line comes together


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POSTED: Monday, September 28, 2009

Together again at last, and just in time for the road.

Hawaii's four projected defensive line starters in fall camp were back in simultaneous action for the first time during the season yesterday. After the Warriors' morning practice, the team flew out to Dallas in the afternoon for their Wednesday game at Louisiana Tech.

Tackle Vaughn Meatoga returned from an injured ankle suffered against UNLV last week, joining ends Fetaiagogo Fonoti and Elliott Purcell and tackle Tuika Tufaga on the first team in drills.

Good timing for Hawaii (2-1), too, against the power running game of the Bulldogs (1-2) under coach Derek Dooley. The nationally televised game on ESPN2 kicks off at 2 p.m. Hawaii time.

“;They're fighting through so we can have a unit that's together,”; defensive line coach Dave Aranda said. “;I'm hopeful when it comes game time, we can play to a level that's expected. But it's good to have everybody back. Some familiar faces I haven't seen in a long time.”;

Fonoti is expected to make his first start of the season after suffering a knee injury just days before the season opener against Central Arkansas. Purcell has battled through a thigh injury he suffered against the UCA Bears.

“;(Having the starters out there) was good, kind of a preview of what we could be,”; said the sophomore Meatoga, who's notched 1 1/2 tackles for losses in three games. “;But it's really everybody who's been playing lately is pretty much our starters. Liko (Satele), Rocky (Savaiigaea), all of us. They've been playing their butts off, so we've seen it.”;

Aranda expects the toughest test of the season yet. UH enjoyed moderate success limiting ground-oriented Washington State (176 rushing yards allowed), but Tech figures to turn things up a notch in the trenches. The Bulldogs struggled offensively in losses to Auburn and Navy, but fired on all cylinders in piling up 558 yards of total offense in a 48-13 win last week vs. Nicholls State.

“;In (LaTech's) previous three games they have faced teams that run the ball as much as they do,”; Aranda said. “;So they have not been able to find a rhythm, necessarily, that's acceptable to them. Kind of hoarding the clock, I think that's their game. And so, our key is to try not to allow that to happen. It starts up front, and it starts with the two inside guys, and goes out from there.”;

Meanwhile, an ornery Greg McMackin was in no mood for a Sunday walkthrough. The head coach constantly exhorted his team to treat the 2-hour period like a normal Wednesday practice before a Saturday game.

“;It'll be a street fight!”; he yelled repeatedly.

 

Pollard ready if needed

Wideout Royce Pollard is ready to assume kick-return duty against the Bulldogs if he gets the nod over Jovonte Taylor, who is recovering from a sprained ankle.

“;We're still looking at that. There's a good chance,”; special teams coordinator Chris Tormey said.

Pollard has fielded three kicks and leads the team in return average at 27.7 yards, compared to Taylor's 24.3.

“;It seems like they want me to get ready,”; Pollard said. “;I have a feel for how guys are going to block and what block goes a certain way. It's reaction—when you see it, just go for it. That's basically what Coach Tormey's been saying.”;

 

Henry makes the trip

Punt returner Ryan Henry is still recovering from a tight hamstring, but was deemed well enough to make the flight to Dallas.

Henry, the only player to field a punt for UH this year, has averaged 6.7 return yards on nine punts.

“;I've just been doing as much as I can do, but not over-pushing it,”; the junior said. “;Just pushing it a little bit toward its limit and leaving it alone after that. The main thing is just getting the ball back for the offense.”;