Despite drop, UH counting on Milne
By Stephen Tsai
Advertiser Staff Writer
By Stephen Tsai
University of Hawai'i punter Kurt Milne was back in the South, a two-hour drive from his Georgia hometown.
He was surrounded by friends and family. His brother had flown in for the opener against Alabama. His father brought dozens of Krispy Kreme doughnuts for Milne's football teammates. His mother planned a team excursion.
For Milne, everything was good . . . until the last drop.
"I made a mistake," said Milne, who dropped a snap, turning what should have been a routine punt into a safety in the Warriors' 25-17 loss to Alabama two weeks ago.
"It was a mental error," Milne said. "But then again, I am a senior. I've been here for a while."
It was Milne's first dropped snap in his UH career. He is so sure-handed he serves as the holder on field-goal and point-after attempts.
"I've never really dropped anything," Milne said. "That's part of the deal. I haven't dropped a snap in pretty much three years."
The safety gave Alabama a 12-3 lead, and the field goal at the end of the ensuing drive made it 15-3.
What's more, he had wobbled punts of 31 yards, which preceded the Tide's 61-yard touchdown drive in the first quarter, and 25 yards.
"It wasn't just about dropping the snap," Milne said. "I had two pretty bad punts at Alabama, too. I think those (punts) upset coach (June Jones) a little more than dropping the ball. That was the big issue."
With last week's bye, Milne had extensive time to replay the mistakes. In a nudge to Milne's ego, slotback Davone Bess was allowed to punt during Tuesday's practice.
"This could turn out to be a good thing," Milne said. "It could push me to be a better punter."
Milne said teammates have been "really supportive. They're like, 'Don't worry about it. You'll rebound.' It was a little better than the whole freshman thing."
He was referring to a game against Rice in 2003, during which a snap sailed over his head. He chased down the football, but it was knocked away, and Rice recovered for a touchdown.
"Nobody was supportive about that one," Milne said. "This time, I've been here a little longer. I probably have a little bit more credibility now. I have to fight through this. It's been the hardest thing I've had to deal with."
The thing is, Milne had one of his best training camps. Last year, he was told to run toward the edge of the pocket before punting, a strategy designed to place punts near the sideline. His punt average dropped from 39.9 yards in 2004 to 36.1 last year. This year, he has been asked to swing away. During training camp, his punts had an average hang time of 4.5 seconds.
"Everybody's got a tough job," Jones said. "You've got to fight through adversity."
Asked about using Bess as a wake-up call, Jones said, "Competition always makes everybody better. We have some guys who can punt. But (Milne is) the best punter we have now. It's like a golfer. You have to play through it. Tough guys get tougher."
LANE CHANGE POSSIBLE
The blueprints call for Malcolm Lane, a freshman wideout who was graduated from a high school in Germany, to redshirt this season.
But in the past two weeks of practices, Lane was asked to portray UNLV quarterback Rocky Hinds, who is 6 feet 5, 225 pounds and can run 100 meters in 10.4 seconds. Lane, who is 6 feet 2, has been impressive enough to make UH coaches search for loopholes in the redshirt agreement.
"We'll do what's in the best interest of the program, and that's always June's criteria, but man, oh, man, Malcolm is a weapon," said assistant coach Jeff Reinebold, who recruited Lane. "You see him in kickoffs or out there running around. He doesn't have any idea what he's doing, but he sure can do it fast."
Lane said: "I'm trying my hardest."
In casting Lane, Reinebold found a player who is tall and nearly as fast as Hinds. In UNLV's spread-option offense, Hinds is allowed to scramble or take off on quarterback draws. Lane helped UH defenders identify Hinds' cutback routes.
"Nobody is going to mistake (Lane) for Joe Montana throwing the ball," Reinebold said. "He'll never be a quarterback. But you can see he's a stone-cold athlete. He can run, and he's big. He ran away from us a couple of times. He made plays because he's an athlete."
Defensive coordinator Jerry Glanville said: "Malcolm didn't earn his scholarship for his throwing. He did an excellent job in preparing our defense."
NOTES AND UPDATES
They spurred debate when they performed the haka before the Alabama game.
"I would think we'll do it," said Jones, noting the Warriors rehearse the traditional Maori war dance before every practice.
• • •
|WHAT: University of Hawai'i (0-1) vs. Nevada-Las Vegas (1-1)
WHEN: 6:05 p.m. Saturday
WHERE: Aloha Stadium
TV: Live on Oceanic cable pay-per-view digital. Call 625-8100 on O'ahu or (808) 643-2337 statewide. Delayed on KFVE Sunday 10 a.m.
AUDIO WEBCAST: espn1420am.com
VIDEO WEBCAST: Available through Hawaiian Telecom and KFVE. Tickets available for single game at $9.95, a full season for $39.95. Go to www.hawaiiantelmedia.com
RADIO: Live on ESPN 1420, with warmup show at 4 p.m.
GATES OPEN: Parking lot 2:30 p.m.; Stadium gates 3 p.m.
ALTERNATIVE PARKING (no tailgating):
All shuttle service runs from 3:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. and approximately one hour after the game ends.
SECURITY: Only fanny packs, purses, backpacks and handbags will be allowed into stadium (subject to check).
TRAFFIC ADVISORY: Sports Radio 1420 will provide traffic advisories and updates before each UH football home game.
Bus No. 1 will pick up at the Mililani Mauka Park n' Ride at 4:30 p.m. and go directly to the stadium.
Reservations are required and service is first come, first serve. Call Roberts School Bus at 832-4886 for reservations and additional information.
CITY BUS SERVICE
The FootballExpress offers 17 pickup locations throughout O'ahu.
The first trip from each location leaves approximately three hours before kickoff and the last trip leaves approximately 90 minutes before the game. Return trips leave as soon as the bus is full, with the final trip leaving a half hour after the game ends.
Honolulu pickup locations are at Ala Moana, downtown, Hawai'i Kai, Kahala Mall, Kaimuki, Palolo, Waikiki and the University of Hawai'i.
Leeward pickups are at 'Ewa Beach, Kapolei, Mililani Mauka and Village Park.
Windward pickups are at Kalaniana'ole Highway and Kailua Road, Kailua Road at Keolu Drive and Hele Street, Kailua Road at Hahani Street, Kane'ohe Bay drive at Mokapu boulevard and Kane'ohe Bay Drive at Makalani Street.
Rates are $3 one way and $6 roundtrip. Passes and transfers are not accepted.
For information, go to: http://www.thebus.org
Reach Stephen Tsai at firstname.lastname@example.org.