Nomadic Heun moves to middle


POSTED: Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The moves don't faze Jake Heun anymore.

Heun signed with Hawaii as a running back coming out of junior college last year, then bounced from linebacker to defensive end and back since the start of fall camp this season.

“;I think since I've been here I've gotten so used to moving once a month. It's not that big of a deal,”; Heun said.

His latest move pushed him into the first unit at middle linebacker as the Warriors began their week of practice in advance of Saturday's Western Athletic Conference football game against No. 6 Boise State.

If he hangs onto that spot through the week, Heun would be the fourth Warrior to start at middle linebacker this season, following Mana Lolotai, R.J. Kiesel-Kauhane and Blaze Soares. The tally reaches five counting Brashton Satele, who was slated to start in the middle until he had season-ending shoulder surgery during fall camp.

“;We're going to look at him. We've been searching for a middle linebacker and we'll take a look at Jake,”; UH head coach Greg McMackin said.

Kiesel-Kauhane and Soares have since returned to their starting spots outside. Lolotai started last week's game at Idaho in the middle, with Heun seeing some playing time in the fourth quarter.

Heun started at defensive end against UNLV when injuries thinned the ranks early in the season. He moved back to linebacker last week, and rooming with Soares — who started two games in the middle — has helped him keep fresh with the responsibilities at linebacker.

“;On the road we were talking football all the time,”; Heun said. “;He'd talk about how he was getting attacked and this kind of stuff. So it was a refresher course on what to look for.

“;It's going to have to be more of a balancing act than at D-end, You can't just light your hair on fire and go every time. But I'm stoked to be back there.”;

Along with Heun's vertical move up the depth chart, slotback Kealoha Pilares slid over a spot to his left to take repetitions at wide receiver yesterday.

Pilares backed up Joe Avery at X receiver, where Rodney Bradley had started the first six games of the season before suffering a broken leg last Saturday.

“;At slot I kind of knew all the positions, I had a general feel,”; Pilares said. “;A lot of the little things I don't know, so I'm going to have to ask questions, watch film.”;

While Avery was first in the rotation and Jon Medeiros saw more time at slot alongside Greg Salas, offensive coordinator Ron Lee said, “;It's too early to tell”; which foursome will start against Boise State.

Lee said Avery will practice on both sides of the formation. He's also hoping to work junior slots Ryan Henry and Dustin Blount into the rotation as well.

Medeiros has played a more prominent role in the last two weeks at slotback. He caught one pass through the first four games of the season and has five receptions for 63 yards since Bryant Moniz took over at quarterback.

“;It's not about me. It's about the team and what's best for the team,”; Medeiros said. “;I'm not the fastest receiver out there, but I just try to find the areas I'm supposed to be in so we're on the same page.”;

Rausch continues comeback

Brent Rausch didn't need to set an alarm Monday night.

“;I woke up at like 4:30,”; Rausch said. “;I got right out of bed and was ready to go to practice.”;

Rausch took part in passing drills yesterday, close to six weeks since suffering a broken bone in the pinkie finger of his throwing hand.

Rausch, UH's backup quarterback to begin the season, was injured during a practice in Seattle prior to UH's game against Washington State. He hasn't been cleared to play just yet and won't be available this week. But throwing in drills is a step forward.

“;It felt fine,”; said Rausch, who had the last two fingers of his right hand taped together. “;I have to compensate a little bit, but it's not bad.

“;You feel like you're not even part of the team when you're just standing there watching practice. It's a lot better being a part of it now.”;

McMackin makes plea to fans

After speaking with media members after practice, McMackin returned to the field to make an appeal to fans to show up for Saturday's game.

“;We need fan support more than we've ever needed it in our time,”; McMackin said. “;If we have an empty house, that's going to breed losing. If we have a full house, that's what happens with winners. And we're trying to teach these kids to win.

“;Believe me, we're exercising every hour, every second with every kid. Every coach is working at it, every player. To be winners, we all have to do this together.”;

Letuli still sidelined

McMackin said offensive tackle Laupepa Letuli will miss his fourth straight game. Adrian Thomas and Austin Hansen split time at right tackle last week. Starting right guard Raphael Ieru sat out most of yesterday's practice to rest a sore ankle. He's expected to be ready to play this week.