Delay forces staff to improvise
By Stephen Tsai
Leaving Las Vegas was not so easy for the Hawai 'i football team.
After Saturday's 31-21 loss to Nevada, the Warriors traveled to Las Vegas, where they were booked on yesterday's 2 a.m. flight back to Honolulu.
But because of mechanical problems, the departure time was postponed to 5:30 a.m., and then to 7:30 a.m.
"That was rough," UH head coach Greg McMackin said.
The UH coaches had planned to go to their offices yesterday morning to review videos of the Nevada loss and finalize the game plan for Saturday's game against Utah State.
Instead, they held their meetings at the airport. They also used their laptops to review videos.
"We still got our work done," McMackin said. "We made the best of it."
McMackin said the Warriors also will not allow their difficult circumstances — they have lost six in a row, falling to 2-6 overall and 0-5 in the Western Athletic Conference — to change their focus.
McMackin vehemently denied the Warriors are thinking beyond this season.
"I wouldn't do that to our seniors," he said. "They've worked hard, and they deserve to win. We're doing everything we can to give them a chance to win."
That included bringing freshman quarterback Cayman Shutter on the Nevada trip, even though he would forfeit a chance to redshirt this year if he played even one snap. Shutter, who was the emergency-only quarterback, did not play in the game.
McMackin said the Warriors are in the second of a two-year rebuilding phase. He said the Warriors rebuilt the offense in 2008, and reconstructed the defense this year.
"It's the reality of the situation," he said.
Still, he said, "we're trying to win the rest of our games. We know our backs are to the wall, but that's our goal."
The Warriors are entering the more favorable part of their WAC schedule.
Their first five WAC opponents had a combined league record of17-5. The next three — Utah State (1-3), New Mexico State (1-3) and San Jose State (0-3) — are a combined 2-9.
The Warriors also are starting to get relatively healthier. Defensive tackle Vaughn Meatoga and quarterback Brent Rausch were medically cleared to play in the Nevada game.
They will learn today about the status of wideout Royce Pollard, who is recovering from a hairline fracture in his left fibula. Pollard has a doctor's appointment today.
Right tackle Adrian Thomas, who has a sore disk, has been rested the past couple of weeks. There is a likelihood he will be available this week.
The Warriors remain hopeful that Laupepa Letuli, who entered the year as the No. 1 right tackle, will be able to return this season. Letuli has an injured left knee. He has undergone a unique treatment to help strengthen the tendon behind his left kneecap. Letuli has responded well to the treatment.
McMackin said the Warriors will review videos for an hour this morning, followed by a light practice for another hour.
The Warriors usually have only conditioning drills and weight-lifting on Mondays.
"We want to get a jump on preparing for Utah State," McMackin said of today's scheduled workout.
TORRES HURTS HAMSTRING
Free safety/nickelback Richard Torres said he still is not sure about his status for the Utah State game.
Torres suffered a pulled left hamstring against Nevada. He was hurt on the play in which Nevada quarterback Colin Kaepernick's option pitch struck a teammate's helmet. UH's Spencer Smith recovered what was initially ruled to be a fumble. But the ruling was over-ruled, and it was decided that it was an incomplete forward pass.
"I tried wrapping (the hamstring) up, but I couldn't go," Torres said.
Torres starts in all of the Warriors' six defensive coverages. Against Nevada, he was the "spy" in charge of tailing Kaepernick.
LANE VOWS TO RETURN
Wideout Malcolm Lane yesterday said he will rejoin the Warriors in January and participate in spring practice.
Lane decided to redshirt this season to focus on academics. He did not redshirt during his first three UH seasons.
Lane was the Warriors' starting right wideout and No. 1 kickoff returner in 2008. Last year, he ranked 18th nationally in kickoff returns, averaging 26.46 yards.