Kauo helps Nevada

The senior co-captain has switched
spots in the Pack’s secondary

Perhaps it is fitting Keone Kauo helps build a new foundation for the Nevada Wolf Pack. If he's not playing pro football in a couple of years, he plans to put a civil engineering degree to use.

Nevada at Hawaii

When: Tomorrow, 6:05 p.m.

Where: Aloha Stadium

Tickets: $26 sideline, $23 south end zone, $17 north end zone (adult), $13 north end zone (senior citizens), $12 north end zone (students 4-18), $3 UH students. Available at Aloha Stadium, Stan Sheriff Center, UH Campus Center, RainBowtique at Ward Centre, and Windward Community College's OCET Office. Or call (808) 944-2697 or go to hawaiiathletics.com on the Internet.

TV: KFVE (Channel 5), delay at 10 p.m., rebroadcast Sunday at 9 a.m. Also available live on pay-per-view. Call 625-8100 on Oahu or (808) 643-2337-7784 on neighbor islands.

Radio: Live, KKEA, 1420-AM.

Parking: Gates open at 2:30 p.m. Parking is $5. Alternate parking at Leeward Community College, Kam Drive-In and Radford High School.

Traffic advisory: 1420-AM is the official traffic advisory station and provides updates before each home game.

Bus: Roberts Hawaii School Bus will run shuttles to and from the stadium with pick-ups at several locations. Call 832-4886 for information and reservations.

For now, the senior strong safety and co-captain is helping pave the way for a new beginning for his younger teammates. The Wolf Pack have not had a winning season since 1998.

"It just takes time. With a new coaching staff, getting the system rolling. We've taken our bumps and bruises. But we're playing the way they want," said Kauo, who arrived yesterday with his Wolf Pack teammates for tomorrow night's game against Hawaii (1-2, 1-1 WAC).

Nevada is 2-2 and 0-1 in the Western Athletic Conference under Chris Ault, a College Football Hall of Fame inductee for his exploits in a Wolf Pack coaching career that had two previous endings. He was Nevada athletic director before replacing the fired Chris Tormey after last season.

One of the first things Ault did was move Kauo from free safety.

"My role has definitely changed a lot. It's not similar at all, but it's not too difficult. It's more simplified. New coaches want you to learn new techniques, so if you've got old techniques drilled into you, you have to adapt," Kauo said. "Last year I was more of a high safety, help the other defensive backs, the last man deep. Now I'm more run support and man-to-man coverage. I like strong safety, being more involved with the run. Now I'm getting in all the action, now I get to go more man-to-man."

A hard hitter and playmaker at 5-feet-11 and 190 pounds, Kauo is considered a potential second-day NFL Draft pick. Experience at both safety positions is a plus for him in that regard.

"It gives you a different dimension," he said. "The scouts get to see you be versatile."

Kauo's tackles are down so far this year; he has 22 in five games after finishing with 86 and 85 in 2003 and 2002. But he does have one of his six career interceptions this season.

Defensive backs coach Dave Fipp said Kauo has been a valuable leader through the Wolf Pack's transition.

"He's very smart, and he's been able to handle all the adjustments we've thrown at him," Fipp said. "No question this is a building process, from the foundation up. It's a lot of work. It's vital for our 12 seniors, and we're trying to win for those guys and build for the future at the same time. We want them to go out on a good note."

Kauo is from Auburn, Calif., near Sacramento. He holds the career rushing record at Placer High School of 4,302 yards, and also played cornerback. His father, John, was also a running back and defensive back -- at Roosevelt High School in Honolulu in the 1970s. Keone never lived in Hawaii, but he visited family here a few times during his childhood and still has quite a few relatives on Oahu. He was recruited briefly by the Warriors.

"It turned out I didn't fit what they were looking for. Everyone knew I'd be a safety, that's what I was recruited as," said Kauo, who made a team-high 11 tackles in Nevada's 59-34 loss at Hawaii in 2002.

"This is nice, it's close to home. As soon as they offered me, I took it. Boise State and a few others offered, but this fit me best."

Kauo has no regrets about choosing Nevada, despite the trauma of the coaching change.

"Everything used to be done different. But for the most part, I've still got lots of my friends here and we think we can turn things around," he said. "I'm going to leave here with a good education I'm happy with."

Pack banged up: Senior tackle Chris Barry, a key player on the Nevada defense, made the trip to Hawaii, but Ault said he is not sure how much he will be able to play tomorrow because of a sprained ankle.

Senior receiver Dell McGee did not make the trip due to an abdominal injury. He has six catches for 69 yards and two touchdowns this year.

Center Thomas Stevens, defensive tackle P.J. Hoeper and defensive end Charles Wilson are all out, too.



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