[ UH FOOTBALL ]
of UH O-line
June Jones says
"we're a long way away"
from solidifying the unit
that protects the QB
An already young Hawaii offensive line got a little bit greener yesterday as two projected starters might be replaced due to injuries.
With redshirt freshman Samson Satele hampered by a strained shoulder that will probably keep him out at least until next week, true freshman Jeremy Inferrera played most of the snaps at left tackle during yesterday morning's practice at the UH practice field.
Warriors coach June Jones said Satele could be dogged by the injury all year, and Inferrera might start the Aug. 30 opener against Appalachian State if he continues to learn UH's system at his current pace.
"When people go down you have to always make plays and you have to step up," Inferrera said. "You can't be nervous. The team needs you at the spot; they don't care how young you are, you just have to step in and be ready."
Junior Phil Kauffman also worked with the first unit yesterday. Kauffman shifted from center to right guard in place of Uriah Moenoa, who reported to camp overweight and now has a sprained foot.
Offensive line coach Mike Cavanaugh said Kauffman could have a chance to win a spot in the lineup if he proves himself while playing in place of Moenoa.
"I'm going to give Phil Kauffman every chance to take it," Cavanaugh said. "If he wants that job, it's open. We'll find out and see what happens."
Moenoa practiced yesterday, but Kauffman was in for more plays.
Of the 22 offensive linemen on the fall camp roster, 12 are either true or redshirt freshmen. The Warriors have two sophomore and seven junior linemen.
Starting left guard Shayne Kajioka is the only senior in the bunch. Moenoa, a junior, started all 26 games in his UH career at right tackle but moved to guard this season.
The line's inexperience showed during team drills yesterday, as the Warriors' defensive line stormed into the offensive backfield on several occasions.
"We're a long way away," Jones said. "The thing that I'd say is scary.
"Uriah came in overweight. He's not the same guy he was last year. We probably lost Samson Satele. With that shoulder, he's probably going to have to battle through it the whole year. We're in not really good shape there. We're going to have to get a whole lot better if we're going to get to where we want to go."
Redshirt freshman Dane Uperesa is slated to start at right tackle and sophomore Derek Faavi tops the depth chart at center.
"(Uperesa's) really stepped up from the spring, worked really hard this summer," Jones said. "Derek Faavi is taking a leadership role."
Infererra, who is listed at 6-foot-2 and 281 pounds, was an all-state selection at Saint Louis School last year. Larry Sauafea came to the Warriors from American Samoa and is another true freshman who has impressed the coaches this fall.
Hercules Satele, a freshman from Long Beach (Calif.) Poly, arrived on campus yesterday, but still has to clear his physical before taking the field.
"Jeremy is going to get a lot of reps," Jones said. "He and Larry Sauafea look very good physically. Larry just hasn't played a lot of football. Jeremy has a long way to go, too, but athletically I think he's going to be a very good player."
Despite the questions that surround his youthful group, Cavanaugh preferred to look at the positives yesterday.
"To me there's guys getting in there learning your system, learning the techniques," Cavanaugh said. "Yeah, they're going to make mistakes, but the great thing is the only way you learn is by doing. I'm excited that Larry Sauafea is getting reps, that Jeremy Inferrera's getting reps. I see two guys that are great athletes who have a chance to be great offensive linemen."
Kauffman has played in 10 games in two seasons at UH and began fall camp competing at center.
"It's a lot better," Kauffman said of moving to guard. "You don't have to worry about snapping the ball and making all the calls. It's a lot easier."
While Kauffman is trying to earn a spot with the starting unit, he said he's impressed with the group of youngsters on the line this fall.
"The rookies this year are smart," he said. "They're a lot smarter than when we first came in. ... They're not going out there dumbfounded.
"When we first came we never got no reps, we just had to learn by watching. But I think it's better that a lot of them are getting reps. If something happens, we can be sure that they're ready."
UH 2003 schedule
>> Home games at Aloha Stadium
|at Louisiana Tech
|at San Jose State
>> USC game is on Fox Sports Network
>> UNLV, Alabama and Boise State games are on ESPN2
>> All other games televised by KHNL-KFVE