No slowing UH
Hawaii remains one of the nation's top passing teams despite having its receiving lineup shuffled several times over the Warriors' first seven games.
UH ranks second in the nation in passing yardage and has had four different receivers break the century mark in a game this season.
Jeremiah Cockheran has four 100-plus yard games (Appalachian State, USC, Rice, Louisiana Tech). Britton Komine (UNLV), Gerald Welch (Fresno State) and Chad Owens (LaTech) have one each.
The only time UH didn't have a receiver get at least 100 yards was in the loss to Tulsa, when Jason Rivers had a team-high 72 yards.
"Those guys have a lot more experience and they do a good job of getting open and making plays out there," quarterback Tim Chang said. "We're just trying to jell and execute as one."
The receiving corps took a hit in the season opener when Nate Ilaoa went down with a knee injury. Cockheran missed two games with an ankle injury and Owens served a two-game suspension.
In his two games since returning, Owens has 15 catches for 224 yards and three touchdowns. Cockheran was back in the lineup last week and caught six passes for 102 yards and a score.
"We're in sync and on the same page most of the time, and that's what it takes," Owens said.
"Guys get shuffled around here and there, but you have to be ready to step up and make the same plays or better than the person in front of you."
Cockheran aggravated his sprained ankle against Louisiana Tech, but participated in yesterday's practice. Rivers spent the morning on the exercise bike, resting a sore hamstring.
Having a party: UH will host a homecoming celebration with a pep rally tomorrow afternoon on campus.
The festivities begin at 3:45 p.m. at the Hale Aloha dormitory. The pep rally will be held at Bachman Lawn with the first 500 students with a valid ID receiving a free ticket to Saturday's game.
The UH band and dancers will perform and athletic director Herman Frazier, coach June Jones and team captains Hyrum Peters and Cockheran will address the gathering.
The event will conclude with a concert featuring Ho'onua and Natural Vibration.
Happy homecoming: Several former UH players have stopped by practice during homecoming week.
Former defensive lineman Joe Seumalo (1985, 87-88), now an assistant coach at Cal Poly, attended Tuesday's practice. Seumalo coaches the Mustangs' defensive line under head coach and former UH player and coach Rich Ellerson.
Nick Rolovich (2000-01) is on a break from job hunting in professional leagues. He played in NFL Europe during the summer, quarterbacking the Rhein Fire to the World Bowl and spent training camp with the Denver Broncos, but was cut before the season.
Jack Sims (1982-84), a Radford graduate and a member of the 1984 Warrior Club, played on the same team as UH defensive backs coach Rich Miano. Jones and defensive coordinator George Lumpkin were assistants under Dick Tomey in those days.
Sims now works as a probation officer in Los Angeles and was impressed with the upgrades in the athletic department since his playing days when he attended yesterday's practice.
"The facilities are so much different from when I was here," he said. "It's nice to see the improvement and the attention that's given to the athletic program here at UH. That's encouraging to see."
Miners arrive: UTEP practiced yesterday at Aloha Stadium. In previous years, the Miners hadn't gotten to Hawaii until Thursday.
"We have it budgeted where we can stay three nights. The last time we weren't able to get out (game) night on the plane. This time we're fortunate to get a flight out of here at 11 p.m., so it worked out good for us," UTEP coach Gary Nord said before practice.
"I don't know if it will help or not. I don't know what this big mystery is of why it's so hard to cross the ocean and play. But obviously it is. It's hard for June to take his team over to the mainland to play. It's been proven it's difficult to make the trip both ways. History has proven it's a pretty difficult thing to do."
The Miners will practice at Aloha Stadium again today and attend a luau tonight. They visit Pearl Harbor tomorrow.
"We're trying to give them a little taste of the culture and history of a part of the United States that a lot of them probably won't see again," Nord said.
Forget the past: There's one Hawaii historical event Nord does not want his team to think about -- the 66-7 pasting the Warriors put on the Miners two years ago here.
"No, we've got a completely different football team. All those kids are a little bit older now and they understand what it takes. We only made the trip with five seniors, and one of them (might not) play this week," Nord said. "We don't pull out previous games to try to get them excited. Just try to understand what they need to do to win the game."
UTEP has lost the last four games at Hawaii by a combined 193-31. The Miners last won in Hawaii in 1991, 41-24.