Moniz, Meatoga await green light


POSTED: Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Before the Hawaii football team leaves campus this morning, a few Warriors will have on-field tests to pass.

Quarterback Bryant Moniz tossed some passes in practice yesterday and the Warriors' full-session today marks a key point in finalizing his status for this week's game at Nevada as he comes back from a concussion.

“;It was a pretty easy day for me; (today) will test how I feel,”; Moniz said. “;The trainers are just going to keep checking on me to see if any of the symptoms of concussion are coming back. But right now it's all green lights.”;

On the other side of the ball, defensive tackle Vaughn Meatoga will see how his ankle holds up under contact in his return from a two-week absence.

“;It's hard to stay away from football, but I'm glad to be back out here now,”; Meatoga said after taking a few reps yesterday. “;It feels real good. It feels way better from the last time I tried to play. I think I can get back to my old self.”;

The Warriors (2-5, 0-4 Western Athletic Conference) depart today for Reno, where they'll face Nevada (4-3, 2-0) on Saturday at Mackay Stadium. Kickoff is set for 10:05 a.m. Hawaii time.

Moniz, Shane Austin and Brent Rausch took equal repetitions at quarterback yesterday, in part to help keep Moniz's arm fresh and assess Rausch's progress in his return from injury. UH quarterbacks coach Nick Rolovich said Moniz is expected to take most of the snaps today with an eye on having him ready to start against the Wolf Pack. All three quarterbacks are expected to make the trip to Reno.

“;I'm taking my regular approach to game day, studying film, all that stuff. Nothing's changed,”; Moniz said.

Meatoga suffered a sprained ankle against UNLV on Sept. 19, and tried to play through the injury the next two games. But after seeing limited action, it was decided to rest the ankle for the last two weeks before returning to practice yesterday.

“;I practically sat out four games because the two games I tried to come in I could barely do anything,”; Meatoga said. “;It was like I was playing with one leg, couldn't put any weight on it or anything and it was pretty tough.”;

Meatoga's weakened foundation made it difficult for him to hold his ground in the middle of the line. Today he'll see how it holds up when taking on another lineman as the Warriors' defensive front prepares for a physical Nevada line that clears the way for the nation's most productive ground game.

“;I think we're still in the wait-and-see period as he plays through it, but it looks promising,”; defensive line coach Dave Aranda said. “;I want to see how he plays with it. He feels comfortable, I'm expecting everything's going to be good, but you never know until you know.”;

Meatoga's return adds depth to a defensive tackle rotation that welcomed Chris Leatigaga last week. Aranda said Leatigaga performed well in the 10 snaps he took in his season debut against Boise State after missing the first six games while recovering from a preseason knee injury.

More aches

Cornerback Jeramy Bryant could miss the trip due to a biceps injury suffered against Boise State. Bryant said the injury occurred when he was struck by a knee to his upper arm.

“;I hurt it in the first quarter and it's been hurting ever since,”; Bryant said.

Bryant has started all seven games, recording 33 tackles with three passes broken up.

Freshman Lewis Walker is listed as Bryant's backup and saw his most extensive action of the season as part of UH's dime packages last week. UH associate coach Rich Miano said Kawika Ornellas could also see a more prominent role this week. Ornellas, primarily a special teams contributor, got into the game at cornerback late against Boise State.

“;He knew what to do, plays with a swagger and he's got tremendous physical ability and it's time to get his feet wet,”; Miano said of the Mililani graduate.

Receiver Royce Pollard is targeting next week's game against Utah State for his return. He'll have an X-ray on Monday to assess a stress fracture in his lower left leg.