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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Monday, November 13, 2006

Hawai'i defense gets more bad news

 •  Hawai'i Bowl has eye on UCLA

By Stephen Tsai
Advertiser Staff Writer

University of Hawai'i nose tackle Kahai LaCount is suffering from a partially torn medial collateral ligament in his right knee and is expected to miss the final three football games of the regular season.

LaCount was injured with 15 seconds remaining in Saturday's 61-17 UH victory over Louisiana Tech.

He is the sixth UH defensive lineman to suffer a significant knee or ankle injury in the past three games.

LaCount, a senior, was used primarily in run-stopping situations.

"He was a guy who could go in and spell Mike (Lafaele, the starting nose tackle), so Mike doesn't have to play long stretches," defensive line coach Jeff Reinebold said. "That allowed Mike to be more effective. And he gives us great senior leadership. That's the hardest thing to replace. Not only is he a better-than-average pass rusher, he's a guy who was a leader on the practice field and in games."

Reinebold said it was difficult to watch LaCount hobble off the field.

"Anytime you see a senior go down with a threatening injury, it breaks your heart," Reinebold said. "You realize this could be the last shot. This isn't tennis. This isn't something you can do when your college career is over. When you're done snapping it for the last time, that's all she wrote.

"In all of the places I've been around the world, I've yet to see two guys in the park pass-rushing each other," Reinebold added. "It doesn't work that way. There's a very short window. Every athlete who is playing this game is playing on borrowed time. With this magical season we're having, you hate to see a guy who's a senior not have a full last go-around."

Defensive coordinator Jerry Glanville, whose wife lives in the family home in Georgia, attended the game, and was heartened to see the support for LaCount.

"She never saw a team come together and take a knee and pray for a player during a game," Glanville said. "My wife has been with me for 42 years. She's been through a thousand huddle breaks. That speaks volumes for what's inside our players."

Glanville said LaCount will be missed.

"He's very knowledgeable with what we're doing and how we're doing it," Glanville said. "He loved playing football. It was important to him."

Reinebold said Rocky Savaiigaea, who did not play Saturday because of a sprained ankle, might be available this week. Savaiigaea can play all three line positions in the Warriors' 3-4 scheme.

JONES: COLT IS NO. 1

Forget e-mail campaigns and national polls.

Head coach June Jones does not need any of those things to justify quarterback Colt Brennan's value.

"Colt is the best player in college football right now," Jones said. "There's no question in my mind about it. If you want to find out the answer to that question, you go call every team we've played, and ask the coaches to comment. They'll say what I said."

Brennan, a fourth-year junior from California, leads the nation in pass efficiency (189.0 rating), total offense (401.9 yards per game), and points responsible for (28.20 per game). Because of the Warriors' one-sided victories, Brennan has played in the fourth quarter four times in 10 games this season. He has thrown 43 touchdown passes, 11 short of the NCAA's single-season record.

Jones said the Warriors and Brennan do not receive deserved recognition because of Hawai'i's isolation.

"We're a pretty good football team, but the rest of the world doesn't know it," Jones said.

He added that in a fair world, Brennan would be a top contender for national player of the year. Notre Dame's Brady Quinn is widely regarded as the nation's top quarterback.

"I talked to a guy yesterday on the sideline who's been to seven Notre Dame games this year," Jones said. "I asked him to compare Brady Quinn to Colt Brennan. He said, 'No comparison. Colt's better.' "

Brennan said: "I guess he's happy with my performance."

Brennan added: "Obviously it's a huge compliment. Right now, things are going so good for us. But he wouldn't be saying those things if I weren't surrounded by the guys I'm surrounded with. That's the main thing."

Reach Stephen Tsai at stsai@honoluluadvertiser.com.