Austin ascends UH depth chart Lumpkin adjusts to new position
• Photo gallery: UH football spring practice
By Stephen Tsai
The hills are alive with the sound of ... Hawai'i quarterback Shane Austin's voice?
With starting quarterback Bryant Moniz still on personal leave, the Warriors have had daily king-of-the-hill competitions to determine the order of the depth chart during spring training. Points are awarded based on performances during practices.
Austin, a fourth-year junior, was atop the proverbial hill during Saturday's scrimmage on Kaua'i — a position he maintained yesterday, and a standing he is expected to retain for tomorrow's practice.
David Graves, a freshman, is No. 2, followed by senior Brent Rausch, and redshirt freshmen Cayman Shutter and Corey Nielsen.
"It's still the middle of spring," said Austin, noting the Warriors have completed seven of the 15 practices of spring training. "We're at the halfway point. It's how you finish. We have to keep trucking through this spring. We've got the second half of the game, basically."
There is no indication when Moniz will return. But each of the remaining quarterbacks has targeted the starter's job.
"Even if Bryant (were) here, I'm still going for the prize," Graves said. "I still want the No. 1 spot. I'm going to do what it takes to get that. Every day is a new opportunity."
Austin said: "Everybody should have that mentality. If you're not striving to be the best, I don't know why you'd be out there. Everybody wants to be the best. Everybody pushes everybody to be the best."
Austin and Rausch, who transferred to UH in June 2008, have the most experience in this four-wide passing offense. Austin won his only UH start last year .
"We've been around the block," Austin said of the schemes. "We know how things are going to develop, and how they'll open up. It makes our reads quicker. I'm feeling confident, but I know I can do things every day to get better."
Austin said he had little warning when he was elevated to No. 1 Saturday.
"Nobody told me anything," he said. "It was: 'Where's Mo?' I went on with practice. You have to go with it."
Rausch said the fractured right pinkie on his throwing hand is completely healed.
"It's ugly," he said, "but it's healed."
While he had an uneven performance in the offense-only passing drills, Rausch made accurate throws in team and blitz drills.
Graves had some difficulties when the defense unveiled new looks and blitzes.
"If things aren't going your way, you have to have a short memory, and keep moving on," Graves said. "The next play is the next opportunity."
For Graves, Shutter and Nielsen, spring work has been beneficial. As freshmen redshirting last fall, those three took turns running the scout offense that went against the top-of-the-depth-chart defense.
"It's great to run our system," Graves said. "Last year, on scout, I was running the other team's system the whole time. This semester, I'm picking up our system."
LIGHT DUTY FOR NOW
Middle linebacker Brashton Satele and offensive right tackle Laupepa Letuli yesterday participated in light workouts.
Both have been cleared to practice while they await a ruling on their appeal for medical hardships that would allow them to play as sixth-year seniors in 2010.
They have been restricted to individual drills as a precaution if their appeals are rejected. The National Football League draft is next week, and teams may sign free agents after that. The UH coaches want to keep Satele and Letuli healthy in the possibility they might need to audition for NFL teams.
"I've been waiting since December (for the NCAA to rule)," Satele said.
STEPPING IN AND STEPPING UP
Kainoa LaCount, who has been filling in for Letuli at right tackle, was inadvertently struck on the right knee during a team drill yesterday.
LaCount told the coaches the injury was not serious.
Levi Legay took over at right tackle.
"I had to step up to the plate," Legay said.
Line coach Gordy Shaw said Legay has "good workout habits and fundamental techniques. He's smart, and he knows what we're doing, and he doesn't make mistakes."
Legay is a 2007 Kealakehe High graduate. He grayshirted in the fall, attending UH as a part-time student, then joined the Warriors in January 2008.
"I guess the coaches felt I needed a little more time to mature physically," Legay said of grayshirting. "I gained a considerable amount of weight since then. I got stronger. I still have a way to go."
Legay, a sophomore, is listed at 6 feet 3 and 280 pounds.
Shaw said another option is to give Adrian Thomas some reps at right tackle, where he started two games last season. Thomas is now the No. 1 right guard.