Star-Bulletin Sports

Sunday, August 12, 2001


Tim Chang, middle, was the Western Athletic
Conference Freshman of the Year last season.

The wait’s almost over

After a tumultuous spring and
summer, UH football practice
finally starts this week

By Dave Reardon

The players had weights to lift and miles to run.

The staff had paperwork to do and tape to watch.

The fans had a coach for whom to pray and tickets to buy (and return).

But the overall feel of the end of spring practice to the beginning of fall camp is best captured by the whiny-voiced old rocker Tom Petty -- it's true, the waiting is the hardest part.

UH Football It finally ends this week for the University of Hawaii football team, with indoctrination of new players tomorrow through Wednesday and the first full practice Thursday night at Cooke Field.

The season begins Sept. 8 against Montana at Maui's War Memorial Stadium.

UH head coach June Jones is getting antsy, but he didn't just sit around in the offseason; in fact, he couldn't. The injuries from his life-threatening car crash of Feb. 22 didn't allow it.

While Jones' rehabilitation has progressed remarkably fast, his body still isn't as flexible as it was before the accident, and sitting for long periods causes him pain.

Practice schedule

Open to the public
>> Thursday, Cooke Field, 7:30-9:30 p.m.
>> Friday-Saturday, UH grass field, 8:30-11:30 a.m.; grass field, 3:45-5:15 p.m.
>> Aug. 20-25, grass field, 8:30-11:30 a.m.; grass field3:45-5:15 p.m.
>> Aug. 27-Sept. 1, grass field, 7-9 a.m.
>> Sept. 3-6, grass field, 7-9 a.m.
>> Sept. 7, Cooke Field, 4-5:30 p.m.

Jones has officially re-assumed the reins from associate head coach George Lumpkin, who ran things while Jones was in the hospital, including spring practice.

Still, while the Warriors' leader is back in his proper place and regaining his strength, the team itself also needs to rehabilitate. UH went 3-9 last year after a 9-4 season the year before, including an Aloha Bowl victory.

The biggest questions about the Warriors this year are on defense. It was Hawaii's weakness last fall. UH gave up more than 30 points in a school-record eight games. Second-year defensive coordinator Kevin Lempa vows that won't happen again.

An improved defense combined with better special teams and a high-powered run-and-shoot offense with returning starters at nine positions could make it all worth the wait.

"That's the hardest part, the waiting," Jones said. "We're definitely all ready to get going."


Tim Chang (6-feet-1, 190 pounds) was the Western Athletic Conference Freshman of the Year last season after passing for 3,041 yards, 19 touchdowns and 19 interceptions. The St. Louis School graduate has been operating the run-and-shoot since intermediate school and figures to only get better after a year of experience at the college level.

Probable back-ups include seniors Nick Rolovich (6-1, 193) and Jared Flint (6-5, 207). Freshman Jeff Rhode (6-6, 230) is an intriguing newcomer; former NFL quarterback Chris Miller was his offensive coordinator at Churchill High School in Eugene, Ore.


The top three rushers from last season are gone, barring the NCAA granting Afatia Thompson an additional season of eligibility.

Junior Thero Mitchell (5-10, 207) will get a long look. But several others will challenge for playing time including Mike Bass (5-7, 165), a talented freshman who could add a dimension UH lacked last year with his speed. The question is whether he can block well enough in the one-back set. Even if he doesn't start at running back, the coaches hope to find a way to get Bass in the game.


A definite strength, with four starters back from the unit that allowed 10 sacks all season. Junior right guard Vince Manuwai (6-2, 296) is being touted as an All-America candidate. The other returning starters are junior left tackle Lui Fuata (6-3, 305), senior left guard Manly Kanoa (6-5, 314), and senior center Brian Smith (6-1, 276). Smith is also an excellent long-snapper. Redshirt freshman Uriah Moenoa (6-3, 335) came out of spring practice as the best at right tackle.

Junior Sione Tafuna (6-0, 295), redshirt freshman Ryan Santos (6-4, 296), junior Shayne Kajioka (6-3, 325) and junior Mike Holt (6-5, 300) will push for playing time and provide depth.


This is another strong unit, with four returning starters and potential standouts waiting in the wings. One of its few problems last year was too many dropped passes early in the season.

Junior right wideout Ashley Lelie (6-3, 178) exploded for team-highs of 74 catches, 1,110 yards and 11 touchdowns. He has NFL-type speed. Senior right slot Craig Stutzmann (5-10, 190), senior left slot Channon Harris (5-8, 162), and junior left wideout Justin Colbert (5-7, 165) will be pushed by senior Stanford transfer Tafiti Uso (6-0, 183), freshman Nate Ilaoa (5-10, 190) and others.


This group could be the key to the entire season. The losses of junior college transfer Isaac Sopoaga (6-4, 300) for the year because of enrollment issues and junior tackle Lui Fuga (6-2, 305) for several early season games because of shoulder injuries, hurt. But the coaches still feel this unit is better than last year's banged-up group.

The very tentative starting alignment is junior left end Laanui Correia (6-2, 253), senior left tackle Mike Iosua (6-3, 282), sophomore right tackle Wayne Hunter (6-5, 286) and sophomore right end Houston Ala (6-1, 218). Hunter and Ala can also play end, and sophomore tackle Lance Samuseva (5-11, 304) and sophomore end Travis Laboy (6-3, 259) will battle for starting spots. Junior Chris Brown (6-1, 256) starts camp as the top middle linebacker, but might be moved back to end, where he started last year.


This is another key area with question marks. Brown's strength is unquestioned, and he showed good instincts in the middle in the spring. But junior transfer Donny Faaliliu (5-11, 238) and freshman Ikaika Curnan (5-11, 230), and others could move him back to the line.

Senior Joe Correia (6-2, 246) was moved to outside linebacker from defensive end, but could be slowed early by a broken foot from playing pickup basketball in the offseason. Junior Pisa Tinoisamoa (6-1, 255), who lived up to his potential only at times last season in the middle, has been moved to the outside.

Sophomore Keani Alapa (6-0, 224) and senior Bronson Liana (6-1, 224) will also be looked at outside.


Safety has lots of experience with Jacob Espiau (5-10, 190) and Nate Jackson (5-10, 168). They made 126 and 112 tackles (first and second on the team) and were both named all-WAC second team. Four interceptions by Espiau and seven by Jackson attests to their big-play ability, but the huge number of tackles is also partly a function of other players missing stops.

Last year's starting corners, Shawndel Tucker and Flex Armstrong, are gone. Sophomore Hyrum Peters (5-8, 182) played in all 12 games last year. He and junior Kevin Millhouse (6-1, 198) get the first opportunities.

Sophomore Gary Wright (5-10, 191) and freshman Abraham Elimimian (5-10, 175) are also in the mix at corner. Senior Robert Grant (6-0, 211) was moved from running back to safety in the spring.


Redshirt freshman Justin Ayat (6-0, 198) at kicker and sophomore Mat McBriar (6-1, 189) at punter are the leaders going into camp. Ayat showed 50-plus yard range on field goals in high school, and McBriar, an American football novice from Australia, caught on quickly last season, averaging 38.3 yards a punt.

UH Athletics
Ka Leo O Hawaii

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