UH’s walking wounded
are walking back
to practice

But just who will be available
at game time will likely be
decided only at ... game time

The Hawaii defense looked significantly healthier yesterday at practice than the previous worst-case projections, three days before the Warriors' (3-3, 3-2 WAC) game at Boise State (7-0, 4-0) on Friday.

But starting defensive tackle Matt Faga might be too tough for his own good. He practiced with his hyper-extended right elbow, despite his position coach's protests.

"I kept pulling him out, he kept going back in, sneaking back in," defensive line coach Vantz Singletary said. "That shows me he really wants it and he's a tough guy. Always a good sign, but I told him I'd rather see him on the side, being smart. I told him he ain't gotta prove anything. Some guys feel like they gotta body-slam somebody every day."

Although he aggravated Singletary yesterday, Faga said he didn't do the same to the injury.

"I feel like I need the reps because I've got to learn how to play with pain, especially in this game against Boise. Their front five is tremendous, the best I've seen," he said.

Faga's was among many injuries suffered by UH players in Saturday's 46-28 victory against San Jose State. The overflowing trainer's room has left coach June Jones without many early clues on who can play Friday against the two-time Western Athletic Conference champions.

"They will all be game-day decisions," he said.

One of the most important involves starting defensive end Mel Purcell, the Warriors' best pass rusher this season. He left Saturday's game with a bruised sternum and was briefly hospitalized.

"It's getting better. It was (scary). It was pretty sore, I could hardly breathe. We'll see if Coach has my name on the traveling squad," said Purcell, who leads UH with 10 tackles-for-loss, including four sacks.

Purcell and Lui Fuga, the other starting defensive tackle, were more obedient than Faga.

"Lui had cramps in his calves, and practice is like game day for him," Singletary said. "I had to tell that dude to stop, too."

Purcell and Fuga helped backups including Karl Noa, Tony Akpan, Daniel Tautofi, Ikaika Alama-Francis, Larry Sauafea, Darrell Tautofi and Michael Lafaele brush up on the defensive schemes. Some of them are banged up, too, but any or all might have to play a lot of serious downs Friday.

Singletary said he's confident Purcell will be ready to play.

"He'll be all right," Singletary said. "He's going the NFL route. I told him that's how they do it in the league, rest up during the week and play the game. Told him to get used to it. Tackles are different than ends, they feel like they physically gotta prove something."

UH still hopes starting middle linebacker Ikaika Curnan can play after missing two games with a high-ankle sprain, and that starting cornerbacks Abraham Elimimian and Kenny Patton are effective despite hamstring injuries. Starting outside linebacker Tanuvasa Moe worked his hamstring by walking up the practice-field hill, but Jones said he is out.

Hawk to fly?: Boise State coach Dan Hawkins' name is being linked with every opening or potential opening, including the Florida job vacated by Ron Zook's firing. It's reportedly former Gators coach Steve Spurrier's job for the taking, but Hawkins' name is on the short list should Spurrier decline.

Hawkins was asked if that is flattering during a phone interview with the Star-Bulletin.

"I'm all about the Broncos."

Will he look at offers at the end of the season?

"I'm all about the Broncos."

Short yardage: Hawaii athletic director Herman Frazier celebrates his 50th birthday Friday in Boise. ... The Warriors were scheduled to leave Hawaii this afternoon and arrive early tomorrow in Boise.



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