Fuga gets clearance to practice in pads, may play Saturday
By Stephen Tsai
Advertiser Staff Writer
University of Hawai'i defensive tackle Lui Fuga has been cleared to practice in pads today, although it has not been determined if he will play in Saturday's game against Rice.
Fuga, who started at right defensive tackle last season, underwent surgery on both shoulders during the offseason. He has participated in non-contact drills only.
Fuga's possible return could boost a UH defense that relinquished 15 rushing first downs against Nevada Saturday.
Defensive tackle Mike Iosua, who is recovering from a hyper-extended right knee, is expected to play, allowing either Houston Ala or Wayne Hunter to move to right end. Ala started in place of Iosua against Nevada.
Hunter has struggled this year, in part, he said, to playing defensive tackle instead of defensive end.
"He'll have to take on blockers no matter where he is," defensive coordinator Kevin Lempa said. "If it's not the guard and tackle (when Hunter plays defensive tackle), it's the tackle and tight end (when he's at defensive end)."
Instead, Lempa said, Hunter's problems could be traced to not playing last year. As required by NCAA rules, Hunter, a 1999 Radford High graduate, redshirted after transferring from California.
Jones said nickel linebacker Kilinahe Noa has recovered from a hamstring injury that kept him off the travel roster. Noa, who also can play strong-side linebacker, gives the Warriors another physical pass defender. His father is former UH wide receiver Henry Noa and cousin is St. Louis Rams offensive lineman Kaulana Noa.
Safety Jacob Espiau said he will try to use a different support for his subluxed right shoulder. Espiau complained that the medical harness he wore last week hindered his mobility and breathing.
No dress rehearsal: After much debate, the Warriors will not practice at Aloha Stadium in preparation for their first game on O'ahu this season.
The Warriors, who usually practice until 9 every morning on the school's grass practice field, only would be able to practice during the afternoon at Aloha Stadium.
"I don't want to go down there in the afternoon if we're not going to play in the afternoon," said Jones, noting Saturday's game against Rice will kick off at 6 p.m.
He said traffic concerns would hinder the Warriors from practicing in the morning at Aloha Stadium and returning to campus in time for the players' breakfast and morning classes.
Besides, he said: "There are only a few true freshmen who haven't played there. Everybody else is used to it."