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UH's Torres rests hamstring


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POSTED: Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Richard Torres is walking a fine line these days, albeit a tad gingerly.

The Hawaii defensive back hopes to be ready to play when Saturday's Western Athletic Conference game against Utah State rolls around.

At the same time, he's aware that rushing back from a hamstring injury could lead to a further setback.

“;I want to play as soon as possible, especially now that our backs are against the wall,”; Torres said yesterday.

Still ...

“;I don't want to push it. If I'm not going to go full speed, I won't be able to help our team anyway, so I'm trying to get to full speed.”;

The sophomore has started the past three games at free safety and is also the Warriors' top nickel back in schemes that call for five or more defensive backs.

He said his hamstring started feeling tight during last Thursday's practice in Reno, Nev., and suffered the pull during the second quarter of UH's 31-21 loss to Nevada on Saturday.

“;He was really a key,”; UH head coach Greg McMackin said. “;They run the option, and early in the game we had a pretty good scheme and feel for it. We were keying a certain person and we caught (Nevada quarterback Colin) Kaepernick a couple of times for losses and really forced them into doing some other things. Then when he got hurt we really didn't have anybody to replace him in that position who had the reps to use that particular scheme.”;

Both Torres and cornerback Jeramy Bryant were among the Warriors observing yesterday afternoon's hour-long practice from the sideline. Bryant didn't make the trip to Nevada due to a biceps injury suffered the previous week against Boise State.

Although injuries have hampered the Warriors' depth at various positions, they've opened the way for some of the youngsters to get game experience.

With Bryant back in Honolulu, redshirt freshman Kawika Ornellas made his first start at cornerback against Nevada and drew positive reviews from the UH coaches.

“;Kawika played outstanding,”; associate coach Rich Miano said. “;We're real pleased with his progress and couldn't be happier with the way he played.”;

Even though the Warriors had just run a set of sprints after practice yesterday, Ornellas stuck around to run the length of Ching Field a few more times, just to make sure he's ready for his increased role on defense.

Playing on special teams helped Ornellas become acclimated to game speed early in the season, and he felt prepared when he was called upon to step in for Bryant.

“;Maybe the night before I thought about (making his first start) for 30 seconds,”; Ornellas said. “;But it's already game seven so it wasn't a big deal.

“;I felt comfortable with the techniques, and I felt comfortable with the game plan, so I was confident going in. ... I might have technically been a rookie, but I'm not a rookie any more.”;

That goes for the other freshmen who've been pressed into action this season.

“;We're all veterans now. We've been through seven games,”; McMackin said. “;You saw (freshman defensive back) Lewis (Walker) make a play and Kawika played the whole game. To play the option you've got to play man, so those DBs were left out there a lot. ... I thought some of our young guys did really a good job.”;

Hawaii ties in Logan

Utah State's visit will bring former UH assistant Alex Gerke back to Aloha Stadium. Gerke coached the Warriors' running backs and assisted with the offensive line last season before taking a job on first-year Utah State head coach Gary Andersen's staff.

Former Baldwin head coach Chad Kauha'aha'a is the Aggies' defensive line coach. Kauha'aha'a returned to Hawaii last season as a member of the Weber State coaching staff. Running backs coach Ilaisa Tuiuaki was born in Kahuku.

The Aggies have two players from Hawaii on the roster, freshman defensive end Mika Nickel (Hawaii Prep) and defensive tackle Kamaloni Vainikolo (Maui).