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Disciplined Torres steps in


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POSTED: Wednesday, October 14, 2009

At first glance, Richard Torres doesn't appear the likeliest candidate to continue the storied line of Kahuku products to develop into established college safeties.

He didn't play the position in high school, spending his prep career as a quarterback and cornerback. For another, at 5-foot-8 and 175 pounds, he's small compared to other former Red Raiders who have patrolled Division I backfields. And even Torres didn't foresee a future as a safety when he walked on with Hawaii last year.

But he's earned the trust of the Warriors coaching staff with his performance this season, and is slated to start when Hawaii faces Idaho on Saturday in Moscow. He was already the top nickel back and has been working as the first-team free safety in the base defense.

“;It's more opportunity for me to learn more positions and I can grasp the secondary a lot better,”; Torres said. “;It should be fun.”;

With Idaho running a single-back look with three receivers and a tight end, Mana Silva still figures to see considerable playing time at free safety in UH's nickel packages.

The Vandals (5-1, 2-0 Western Athletic Conference) enter the game second in the league in passing offense, trailing the Warriors (2-3, 0-2). But Idaho's balance puts a premium on staying disciplined in the secondary.

“;I'm so used to being super aggressive and run to the ball right away,”; Torres said. “;At free safety you've got to be a little more patient, make sure it's a run before you come up, don't be overly aggressive.”;

Torres has been a productive member of the secondary at nickel back, logging nine tackles with one forced fumble.

“;He's played really well for us, he's graded out the best of anybody and he makes plays. He's always correct and does a good job,”; UH head coach Greg McMackin said.

Torres, who often sports a Kahuku shirt under his practice jersey, joins the series of safeties to come out of the North Shore in the last 10 years.

Leonard Peters and Hyrum Peters were All-WAC performers in past years. The Warriors added freshmen Aulola Tonga and Kamalani Alo this season, while Gary Nagy is sitting out this season after transferring from BYU.

Viliami Nauahi was an All-State DB in high school and is now a reserve defensive end and special teams player. UH redshirt freshman Paipai Falemalu also played some safety at Kahuku before moving to linebacker and eventually shifting to defensive end this season.

Among those who attended mainland colleges, Aaron Francisco (BYU) and Al Afalava (Oregon State) are now on NFL rosters.

The school's history of successful defensive backs tends to perpetuate the line as alums return to help the current players.

“;I remember when I was in high school Aaron came to our spring ball and was helping us out,”; Torres recalled. “;Leonard used to come and help us out. My junior year, Hyrum was helping us out too when I was a corner, showing us techniques.”;

It's a trend Torres has already worked to continue. He helps his father, Kahuku head coach Reggie Torres, working with the Kahuku backs in the summer and aspires to make a living in the profession.

“;Whenever I can I try to just give them little points, small things to maybe help them out,”; Richard Torres said.

Meatoga, Pollard stay back

Injuries continue to take bites out of the depth chart.

Defensive tackle Vaughn Meatoga and wide receiver Royce Pollard are not expected to accompany the team when the Warriors embark on their trip to the Northwest, McMackin said last night.

Meatoga has been hampered by a sprained ankle since UH's loss at UNLV on Sept. 19. He tried to play the last two games, but was largely limited by the injury.

Pollard started the last two games at Z receiver and on kickoff returns, but will miss Saturday's game due to a stress fracture. McMackin said he wasn't sure how long the injury will keep Pollard out of action.

Pollard has 13 catches for 142 yards, and moved into the starting lineup when Jovonte Taylor was slowed by an ankle injury. Taylor was close to full speed last week and returned three kickoffs against Fresno State.

Offensive tackle Adrian Thomas said he expects to return to practice today after sitting out two days to rest his back. Austin Hansen has held down the spot in Thomas' absence. Linebacker R.J. Kiesel-Kauhane spent most of yesterday's practice taking mental reps while resting a tweaked ankle.

The Warriors depart on their third road trip of the season after today's practice.

The rain on Spain

The downpour during the Fresno State loss didn't faze UH commit Kevin Spain one bit.

Spain, a quarterback at Paradise Valley (Ariz.) High, made his official visit last weekend. He committed to UH in the summer and said sitting through the rain during the game didn't dampen his visit.

“;I thought it was amazing. I had never been to Hawaii before,”; Spain said.

He said a few schools have tried to contact him recently, but he remains solidly committed to UH.