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The Honolulu Advertiser

Updated at 9:06 a.m., Thursday, November 16, 2006

UH punter Milne enjoys team's success from sidelines

Jaymes Song
Associated Press


Kurt Milne has punted just seven times in UH's seven-game winning streak.

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Kurt Milne is the only starter on Hawai'i's roster who hasn't needed a post-game shower in nearly two months.

Milne is seeing very limited action as punter because of the Warriors' high-powered offense, which has scored almost at will this season with more touchdowns than fourth downs.

In Hawai'i's seven-game winning streak, Milne has punted a total of seven times. Three came in one game and he didn't punt at all in three others.

"It feels like every time I go out there, it's the first punt of the season," he said. "I still get butterflies because I haven't been playing that much, even though it's going to be the 10th game of the season."

The Hawai'i Bowl-bound Warriors (8-2, 5-1 Western Athletic Conference) are ranked No.1 in the nation in total offense (542.4 yards a game), passing (436.7) and scoring (48.7). They face San Jose State (6-3, 3-2) on Saturday.

Milne said he doesn't mind the lack of playing time.

"This is the most fun I've had on a team," he said. "It's fun to be around even though I don't get to play much."

Ever the honest Georgian, Milne admitted that, on occasion, he has hoped that Hawai'i's pass-happy offense will come up a little short on third-and-long so he can get in the game.

"Sometimes. I'm not going to lie," he said. "Only when we're up by a lot. ... Even when we put our backups in, I still don't punt."

That's because the backups have been scoring too.

Hawai'i has outscored its opponents 192-37 in the past three games and posted at least 60 points in four of the past six games.

The Warriors' success comes during Milne's senior year when he is trying to catch the attention of NFL scouts, just like his predecessor Mat McBriar did.

McBriar, a close friend of Milne, now plays for the Dallas Cowboys and leads the NFL in punting with a 49.7-yard average.

"Since I punt so little, every bad punt kills you," Milne said. "The worst thing about it is, you hit one bad punt and you don't know when you're going to punt again. You could stay in a bad mood for weeks around here because you may not get to redeem yourself."

Milne has punted 15 times this season with a 39-yard average.

"I'm just having fun right now," he said. "At the beginning of the year, it was like, 'I want to punt. I want to punt.' Now I'm just getting used to it and enjoying it."

He did see unexpected action in last week's 61-17 win against Louisiana Tech, not as a punter but as a kicker. Milne was put into the second half when kicker Dan Kelly was benched after booting three straight kickoffs out of bounds.

Milne hadn't kicked off since high school prior to last Saturday.

"It worked out all right," he said. "I felt like I contributed to a win. That's the worst part of not playing much. You don't feel like you're part of the success or helping the team."

Besides not needing a shower, there are other benefits of not playing, like being the first out of the stadium.

"You try to get on the first bus and get out of there," he said.