Graunke honored by WAC
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By Stephen Tsai
By Stephen Tsai
Quarterback Tyler Graunke's second-half performance yesterday earned full praise. He was named the Western Athletic Conference's Offensive Player of the Week.
"It's crazy," Graunke said. "I got Player of the Week last year when I played one half against Utah State, too."
Summoned at the start of the second half for a groggy Inoke Funaki, Graunke completed 13 of 20 passes for 218 yards and three touchdowns to rally the Warriors from a 10-point deficit to a 36-17 victory over Weber State.
"It was a total team victory," Graunke said of the game and the WAC award. "I might have been the match that sparked the fire, but it was a totally different team in the second half. We played like how our motto says: Protect this house. We don't want to let anybody beat us in our house."
Graunke was reinstated to the team two weeks ago after resolving "academic issues," but did not participate in passing drills until last week Tuesday. He had three full practices, all as the No. 2 quarterback, prior to the Weber State game.
"I'm not trying to be the guy who doesn't practice all week and plays in the games," Graunke said. "I'm not like that. I feel I get better every day I practice. Every one of them helped me."
Graunke admittedly needs to get into better shape.
"I have a little bit of a belly," he said. "I can't keep up in the running drills. That's not what I'm worried about. I have to be in shape to get through four quarters. I feel I'm just about there. This week of practice is going to help. I'm looking forward to it. I can't wait."
He also said he emerged relatively healthy. He has red-streaked scrapes on both forearms.
"My head was shaken that night, but I took a little Excedrin," he said. "I have a cramp above my right butt cheek. But other than that, I'm 100 percent."
FUNAKI ON MEND
Funaki also has recovered from what was believed to be a mild concussion suffered in the first half Saturday.
"I guess they were worried," Funaki said of the doctors and trainers. "They didn't think I was all there. The more I denied it, the more I confirmed I wasn't OK. I thought I was OK, but they thought I wasn't all there. They thought it could have been a mild concussion. They were worried I would go out there and take another hit and it would be worse."
Graunke will start against Oregon State. Funaki will take snaps this week as the No. 2 quarterback, according to quarterback coach Nick Rolovich.
"He made (some good) throws out there," Rolovich said, but also noted that Funaki too often scrambled instead of waiting for plays to develop.
Funaki agreed, saying, "From my own point of view, I could have hung in there and slid around more (in the pocket) instead of taking off unnecessarily."
LEFT O-LINE UP IN AIR
The coaches are hopeful of resolving the uncertainty on the left side of the offensive line.
Against Weber State, No. 1 left tackle Laupepa Letuli did not play because of a small tear in his left shoulder. Backup left tackle Aaron Kia was held out because of tendinitis in his knees.
Keith AhSoon moved from left guard to left tackle, and Brysen "Bulla" Ginlack opened at left guard. In the second half, Raphael Ieru played left guard.
"Neither stood out more than the other," offensive line coach Brian Smith said of Ginlack and Ieru. "We're still going to be working with both guys."
Smith said the Warriors are better when AhSoon, who started 13 games at left tackle last season, is at left guard. That will not happen until Letuli or Kia are available to play.
"We'll see how it goes," Letuli said.
Kia said: "I'm going to play no matter what happens. I'm going to do anything I can legally do to get on the field against Oregon State."
Ieru, meanwhile, said he needs constant treatment to prevent aches in his right knee. The fourth-year junior underwent surgery to repair a torn meniscus after his freshman season. But he said the injury still "haunts" him.
"I try to suck it up," Ieru said.
KELLY OFF RHYTHM
Dan "The Iceman" Kelly said poor mechanics probably led to his two missed field-goal attempts.
"It seemed my rhythm was off," Kelly said. "I haven't had good warmups in pregame the last two games. It didn't affect me in Florida, but it affected me this time. I was falling off the ball a lot more. I was pushing everything to my right. I was staying on the ball too much, trying to compensate for it. I got all screwed up. I have to fix it this week."
Ikaika Malloe, who coordinates the special teams, said: "Sometimes a kicker like Dan over-analyzes things too much. ... Sometimes when you over-think, it'll be like a golfer. You swing just 1 inch wrong one way and the ball flies 10 yards to the right or left. We want to slow him down. He works his butt off as much as I let him. I've got to hold him back and let him rest the leg, and on Saturday he'll be back to normal."
HEUN READY TO RETURN
Running back Jake Heun, who has not practiced since Aug. 4 because of a herniated disc, is expected to be medically cleared this week.
"Its been a month and a half," Heun said. "I'm ready to be back."
Heun said he has kept busy attending meetings, helping in practice, riding the exercise bicycle and doing weight training that does not involve his lower back.
Reach Stephen Tsai at firstname.lastname@example.org.