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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Junior QB Akina emerges as top backup for Chang

By Stephen Tsai
Advertiser Staff Writer

It appears Kainoa Akina has emerged as the immediate backup to University of Hawai'i quarterback Tim Chang for Saturday's season-opening football game against Florida Atlantic.

UH coach June Jones has said Akina and Jack Rolovich will receive significant playing time this season.

But yesterday, Chang and Akina were the only two quarterbacks to compete during passing drills. This past Saturday, both split time directing the two-minute offense.

When asked yesterday if it appeared he will enter Saturday's opener as the No. 2 quarterback, Akina said, "Since today is Monday and I have a game this Saturday, my conclusion would be the same as yours."

Akina, a fourth-year junior, said he is preparing as if he will take control of the offense if Chang were to leave the game.

"I think it'll be a lot more to what I used to do my freshman year," said Akina, referring to his role as Eastern Michigan's starting quarterback.

Akina transferred after that season, returning to Hawai'i, where his father, Duane, and uncles were standout quarterbacks at Punahou School. Duane Akina is Texas' co-defensive coordinator.

"Ultimately, it was a good decision on my part," Akina said of the move. "I'm super happy being back here. It really worked out well."

At 5 feet 10, Akina manages to elude taller pass rushers with his scrambles and multiple-passing motions. Sometimes he will throw with a three-quarter motion, sometimes he side-arms passes.

"Obviously, I'm not very tall," Akina said. "My dad used to say, 'You need every throw in your arsenal.' I used to watch (5-foot-10 Heisman Trophy winner) Doug Flutie make all of those throws with different motions. I thought, 'That's kind of cool.' Whatever means possible."

Four will rotate at three linebacker spots

Jones said Ikaika Curnan, Tanuvasa Moe, Chad Kapanui and Watson Ho'ohuli will rotate at the three linebacker positions in the Warriors' base 4-3 defense.


What: NCAA football.

Who: Hawai'i (0-0) vs. Florida Atlantic (0-0).

When/Where: 6:05 p.m. on Saturday at Aloha Stadium.


$20 (sidelines), $18 (South end zone), $10 (North end zone), $9 (North end zone/senior citizens, ages 4-18), free (UH students, but tickets only available at Stan Sheriff Center).

Parking: $5.

Stadium Gates: Open at 3 p.m.

Radio: KKEA (1420 AM).

Television: Live on pay-per-view; delayed at 10 p.m. on K5 (Channel 5).

The likely opening lineup will be this: Kapanui on the strong side (across from the tight end), Curnan in the middle and Moe on the weak side. When Ho'ohuli enters as the middle linebacker, Curnan will shift to the weak side and Moe goes to the strong side.

When the Warriors use an alignment with five defensive backs, Moe and either Curnan or Ho'ohuli will be the linebackers.

Outside linebacker Paul Lutu-Carroll yesterday practiced for the first time since Aug. 15, when he suffered a partially torn medial collateral ligament in his right knee.

"You have to play through it," Lutu-Carroll said of the injury. "I'm trying to work into the rotation again."

He said he does not anticipate starting this week. "Right now, my mental game is lacking," he said. "We'll see how this week goes. Practice makes perfect."

Status of Purcell will be a game-time decision

It was feared starting defensive left end Melila Purcell III would miss the season opener after suffering a sprained right ankle during Saturday's practice. But the next day, he attended a luau, where he received a lomilomi massage on his ankle.

"I think he'll play," said Jones, although a decision won't be made until the day of the game. Jones described Purcell as "probably our best defensive player."

Purcell said: "We'll see on game day if I'll be playing."

Purcell also is recovering from a sprained left foot. He said that injury is "probably 70 percent" healed.

30,000-plus expected for season opener

Associate athletic director Thomas Sadler has not received the final ticket report, but he estimated a crowd "in the mid-30(000)s to high 30(000)s" for Saturday's game.

Last year, the Warriors distributed 42,996 tickets for the season opener against Appalachian State.

Backup punter Wright will handle kickoffs

Tim Wright, the backup punter, is expected to handle the kickoffs in the season opener.

Justin Ayat, who is recovering from a groin injury, is expected to be the placekicker.

Reach Stephen Tsai at stsai@honoluluadvertiser.com or 525-8051.