Wounded Warriors may not play
By Stephen Tsai
By Stephen Tsai
The Hawai'i football team is prepared to be without two of its top playmakers for tomorrow's game against Washington State.
Running back/slotback Kealoha Pilares, who leads the Warriors with seven touchdowns, and defensive back Ryan Mouton have not practiced this week and are not expected to play tomorrow, UH head coach Greg McMackin said.
What's more, there is concern about Mouton's availability for the Dec. 6 regular-season finale against nationally ranked Cincinnati.
Mouton has a high-ankle sprain.
Pilares has a sprained right foot. X-rays did not show a fracture. He underwent an MRI Wednesday night.
Pilares said he will test his right foot during the walk-through practice this afternoon. "I want to see if it holds up," he said.
But McMackin said he does not expect Pilares or Mouton to play.
"We have to move on," McMackin said. "We don't have any choice."
Pilares also moonlights as the punt returner. Ikaika Malloe, who coordinates the special-team units, said Aaron Bain will be the punt returner. McMackin said Bain has fully recovered from rib soreness.
Bain also will open at right slotback. Pilares has alternated between right slotback and running back.
McMackin said Daniel Libre, David Farmer and Leon Wright-Jackson will rotate at running back.
Despite suffering from an injury to his mid-section, Libre rushed for two touchdowns in a 49-17 victory over Idaho the past Saturday.
"I wasn't even sure if they were going to put me in or not," Libre said. "I kept asking them to put me in, and they eventually gave in. I'm going to play through it."
Libre said he still experiences discomfort. While he is "conscious" of the injury when he plays, "I can't let it hold me back," he said. "I paid for it the next morning. Man, I was hurting. I didn't want to show it, but yeah, I paid for it. I'm not going to lie."
Wright-Jackson has played sparingly in the second half of the season because of a foot injury.
"To be honest, it was the kind of cleat I had on," Wright-Jackson said of the cause of the injury. "It was too light for me. The soles weren't thick enough. When I planted hard, I did something to my foot. I don't know what exactly."
Mouton is the Warriors' best cover defender and blitzer. He also is the fastest Warrior, capable of sprinting 40 yards in 4.3 seconds. This season, he has played cornerback, free safety and nickelback.
Desmond Thomas replaced Mouton at free safety last week. Mouton was injured in the first quarter. Thomas made an interception and recovered an Idaho fumble.
"Desmond was our player of the game," McMackin said.
Thomas played well before suffering a hip flexor last season. The injury bothered him through the early part of this season.
"He brought his game back," McMackin said.
Richard Torres, a walk-on from Kahuku High, will replace Mouton as the nickelback in situations involving five defensive backs.
"Richard has similar qualities to Mouton, but he's not as fast," said associate head coach Rich Miano, who coordinates the defensive secondary. "He has the technique and the smarts. He has the intangibles. But he's learning on the job, so to speak. And nobody blitzes as well as Mouton."
Strong safety Erik "E-Rob" Robinson also did not participate in his third consecutive practice. A tight hamstring reduced him to a cameo appearance against Idaho. Keao Monteilh will start at strong safety if Robinson is not available.
"I'll be fine," Robinson said. "I needed a little rest."
Reach Stephen Tsai at email@example.com.