Austin ascent inspired by Masoli


POSTED: Wednesday, November 18, 2009

During a preseason spent primarily on the periphery of the Hawaii offense, Shane Austin kept the story of another quarterback with island ties in mind.

As the Warriors ended fall camp, Austin found himself fourth on the depth chart and seemingly miles away from contributing. It was around that time that his parents sent him an article recounting the journey taken by Oregon quarterback and Saint Louis alum Jeremiah Masoli.

“;Last year he was fifth string and ended up starting and winning a bowl game,”; Austin said. “;That was inspiration. “;I kept thinking you just have to keep getting yourself prepared and mentally ready because you never know what's going to happen.”;

Few could have foreseen the chain of events that pushed Austin back into the quarterback rotation, and maintaining that state of readiness paid off for Austin and the Warriors (4-6, 2-5 Western Athletic Conference).

Called upon suddenly last Saturday when Bryant Moniz's sore ribs forced him out of the game, Austin took two warm-up throws and then completed five straight in marching the Warriors to a fourth-quarter touchdown in their 24-6 win over New Mexico State last weekend.

With Moniz sitting out of practice the last two days, Austin continues to prepare, splitting time with Brent Rausch in practice.

Moniz said he's planning to practice tomorrow to assess the status of his bruised ribs heading into Saturday's conference game at San Jose State (1-8, 0-5).

“;I really want to be out there, of course. But depending on how it feels Thursday, I'll make the decision,”; Moniz said yesterday. “;I don't want to hurt the team by having too much pride and going out there and not being able to perform. And Shane's doing a good job. He came in and took the ball right into the end zone. If I'm not ready to go, then he'll be ready.”;

While Moniz said his ribs were still tender yesterday, it didn't rate as high on the pain scale as a similar injury he suffered in high school, courtesy of a hit delivered by current UH teammate Blaze Soares, then a Castle linebacker.

“;That one was actually worse,”; Moniz said. “;(His current injury) wasn't as bad as that time and I played the following week. So we'll see how it goes.”;

In the meantime, Austin's increased repetitions lately have helped his comfort and confidence after not making the travel squad for the Warriors' first road trip of the season.

He was called up to join the team in Seattle when Rausch broke a bone in his throwing hand just before the Washington State game. He then moved into the backup job when Moniz took over after starter Greg Alexander's season-ending knee injury at Louisiana Tech.

Austin found himself in the lead role when Moniz suffered a concussion against Boise State and again in the fourth quarter of last week's game.

“;It helps with the confidence of the guys around you,”; Austin said of his 8-for-11 performance against the Aggies. “;That's the biggest thing to me, earning the respect of your teammates and coaches.”;

Along with Masoli's example, Austin also has a resource in his father, Dave Austin, a mental performance coach with professional athletes among his clients.

“;That's been a blessing in itself,”; Shane Austin said. “;He just helps me stay positive each day and just enjoy the little things. Just be happy you're playing college football.”;

Salas sits out again

Slotback Greg Salas said he's also planning to practice tomorrow to test his sprained foot.

“;It's feeling better from yesterday, so if it keeps improving like this then hopefully I'll be ready to go,”; said Salas, the nation's leading receiver.

With Salas out, Kealoha Pilares took some repetitions at slotback yesterday. Pilares played slotback for the first six games of the season, and moved to wide receiver after Rodney Bradley suffered a broken leg in a loss to Idaho.

“;It's kind of easy to adjust now,”; Pilares said. “;Especially at receiver because everyone helps each other out. We have to know what each other is doing.”;

Wisconsin kickoff set

Kickoff for Hawaii's regular-season finale against Wisconsin on Dec. 5 has been set for 6:30 p.m., at Aloha Stadium. The game will be televised on ESPN2.

Stutzmann stays positive

Former UH slotback and graduate assistant Craig Stutzmann was among the Portland State coaches released by the school in the wake of Jerry Glanville's resignation yesterday. Stutzmann was hired by Glanville, the former UH defensive coordinator, as the Vikings' receivers coach in August.

Stutzmann said he's going to keep his “;ear to the ground”; in seeking opportunities in college coaching.

“;I'm going to just try to keep my options open and see what God has next,”; Stutzmann said.

“;It's a tough profession, but it's a great job.”;