Warriors will make defensive line changes
By Stephen Tsai
Advertiser Staff Writer
After relinquishing 15 rushing first downs against Nevada last week, the University of Hawai'i football team has shuffled its defensive line for this week's game against Rice.
Lance Samuseva will start at right tackle and Travis Laboy is expected to open in place of injured right end Joe Correia. Left tackle Mike Iosua, who missed the Nevada game because of a hyper-extended right knee, will start.
Last week's starting defensive tackles, Houston Ala and Wayne Hunter, will play with the second rotation.
Samuseva, a sophomore from Farrington High, will play the space-eating position on the defensive line. The 5-foot-11, 285-pound Samuseva is strong (he can bench press 225 pounds 31 times) and difficult to block.
"He's been playing really well," UH coach June Jones said.
Said Samuseva: "I'm happy all of my hard work has paid off. I tried to work my butt off and get a starting job. I'm happy the coaches noticed."
Correia, who underwent surgery to repair a broken bone in his right foot this past summer, aggravated the injury during the Nevada game. He is listed as having a sprained right foot.
"The coaches want me to rest it for a little while," Correia said. "If I cannot run at full speed, I guess I won't play this week."
Laboy, who missed all of training camp with a hamstring tear, was effective against Nevada. "He has good athletic ability and quickness," Jones said.
Hunter, a Radford High graduate who redshirted last season after transferring from California, has been moved to left end and the second team. The 6-foot-6 Hunter said he feels more comfortable playing on the outside, where he has more room.
Meanwhile, defensive tackle Lui Fuga, who was cleared to practice in pads yesterday, said he is not healthy enough to play this week.
"I can't even bench 200 pounds," said Fuga, who is recovering from shoulder surgery, "and an offensive lineman weighs 300 pounds. How can I play?"
Just in case: Starting left wide receiver Justin Colbert did not practice yesterday because of a shoulder sprain.
"He can't lift (his arm) up," Jones said, although medical trainers expect him to play against Rice.
If Colbert cannot play, Tafiti Uso will draw the start. Uso caught a 21-yard pass to set up the Warriors' final touchdown against Nevada (although Correia, who also wears No. 6, was credited with the reception).
"Tafiti is ready to go," said assistant coach Ron Lee, who coaches the UH receivers.
Uso, a Niu Valley resident, redshirted last season after transferring from Stanford, where he was projected to start. After this season, he will return to Stanford to earn a bachelor's degree.
Holding on: In the first two games last season, the Warriors dropped 20 passes. This year, they have two drops in two games.
"They're really working hard and concentrating," Lee said.
Left slotback Channon Harris, who dropped two passes in the opener against Montana, was flawless last week, even tip-toeing near the sideline to make a scoring catch.
"It's about time for me to come through," said Harris, a senior. "They've been waiting for me long enough."