Brennan closing practice
for Warriors

The game plan may not be quite
ready, but Hawaii’s defensive lineup
is nearly complete

Sophomore Colt Brennan seemed to be getting most of the quarterback repetitions at Hawaii's football practice at Aloha Stadium yesterday. But coach June Jones said "nothing has changed," and second-year freshman Tyler Graunke is still No. 1. Jones has repeatedly said both will play in the season opener against USC a week from today.

"They both got 40 reps," Jones said.

Brennan ran nearly all the plays in the second half of the 2 1/2 hour workout.

"Right now it's just a repetition thing with me. I need to get as many reps as possible to be ready to go out there," said Brennan, who was throwing the ball well against both defenders and air. "Coach is putting me into a situation to really get me familiarized with the playbook."

Both quarterbacks said a strategy for attacking the defending national champions' defense is beginning to take shape.

"I don't know exactly why I didn't get a lot of reps today. But we put in a new play, and I ran that a lot, so that's cool," Graunke said. "We don't know the exact game plan for USC yet, but whatever we can do to win, I'm all for it."

Senior slotback Nate Ilaoa continued to get a lot of work with projected starters freshman Davone Bess and sophomore Jason Ferguson, especially since second-year freshman Ryan Grice-Mullen did not practice at all due to his sore shoulder.

Defense nearly set: Jones said the defensive lineup is mostly set, except nose tackle, where No. 1, junior Renolds Fruean, was out with a hip flexor yesterday. Junior Reagan Mauia and several others are vying for playing time.

"A lot of it depends on who is cleared to play (at tackle)," Jones said, as the Warriors continue with paperwork struggles at the position with JC transfers.

The other tentative starters are Kila Kamakawiwo'ole, (endoutside linebacker), Mel Purcell (end) and Ikaika Alama-Francis (end), Tanuvasa Moe (outside linebacker), Ikaika Curnan (inside linebacker), Brad Kalilimoku (inside linebacker), Keao Monteilh (cornerback), Leonard Peters (free safety), Lono Manners (strong safety) and Ryan Keomaka (cornerback).

Jones hasn't given up on the idea of returning starter Kenny Patton being ready to play at corner after arthroscopic knee surgery Monday, saying it will be a "game-time decision." Players have come back from such surgery within a week, but the usual recovery time is four to six weeks.

Backup quarterback Kainoa Akina was sidelined yesterday with a sprained left ankle.

Catching on: Whether Aaron Bain gets on the field this season remains to be seen. But the true freshman is making his case for some playing time in practice.

The various injuries to UH slotbacks have increased Bain's opportunities to run with the first unit, and he's been surprised by the amount of action he's seen so far.

"At least two or three times a week they tell all the freshmen that we should feel fortunate," Bain said. "All the past years they said all the freshmen just stand on the side taking visual reps or on scout (team). So I'm very fortunate to be taking reps with the first and second string. I just try to improve every day."

Bain is familiar with the run-and-shoot offense as a product of the Saint Louis program and worked out with the returnees during voluntary workouts this summer. Jones said Bain may still redshirt this season depending on the health of the other slotbacks, but he's emerged as a reliable pass catcher in practice.

"He's doing a real good job in practice," receivers coach Ron Lee said. "He's quick and he's strong."

Michael Washington, another freshman, may see playing time this season at receiver and as a kick returner.

"(Returning kickoffs) is my favorite, just catching the ball and you've got so much space," Washington said. "But in college the guys close real quick. It's not like high school, where I could just dance back there. I just have to hit the hole and dance whenever I get in the open."

Washington fielded most of the kickoffs during Thursday's special teams periods, though Jones said the coaches will look at a few more possible return men this week. Walk-on Andre Taylor took one back for a touchdown during yesterday's practice at Aloha Stadium.

The Star-Bulletin's Jason Kaneshiro contributed to this report.

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