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Final exams bring practices to a halt

By Stephen Tsai

LAST UPDATED: 2:56 a.m. HST, Dec 14, 2010

There was one sure way to stop the 24th-ranked Hawaii football team: Final exams.

After polling his players on their test schedules, head coach Greg McMackin canceled practices set for yesterday morning and today. Those practices were supposed to feature scrimmages involving scout players and redshirts.

"Academics come first," said punter Alex Dunnachie, whose Warriors play Tulsa in the Dec. 24 Sheraton Hawaii Bowl at Aloha Stadium.

Left slotback Greg Salas, who is participating in Saturday's graduation ceremony, worked out for about 30 minutes before heading to class.

"We're excited about the bowl game, but we have finals this week," Salas said. "It's important for us to take care of that now."

Although Tulsa has been having full workouts, according to McMackin, the Warriors will have ample preparation time. The Golden Hurricane's 12-game regular season ended Nov. 26. The Warriors, who have played 13 games, last played Dec. 4.

McMackin said he considers last week -- during which the Warriors had three running sessions -- as a bye week. The Warriors set aside time for voluntary conditioning sessions yesterday and today. The Warriors will practice tomorrow through Friday, take off Saturday for the graduation ceremony and to check into a Waikiki Hotel, then work out Sunday through Dec. 23.

"This gives guys who are beat up a chance to get healthy," McMackin said. "And we travel so much, that academically they had to catch up."

The Warriors missed 20 days of school because of five road trips covering six games.

"Academics are our No. 1 thing," McMackin said, adding that canceling practice "was the right thing to do."

McMackin said the coaches did not take a break, and the game plans have been formulated.


Safety limping in place

These days, safety Jordan Gomes feels as if he is limping in place.

"You don't realize how much you miss running until you can't do it," Gomes said. "It's hard. You want to run around."

It might be a while before Gomes is back to full speed. In January, Gomes is scheduled to undergo surgery to repair tears to the ACL and MCL in his left knee. The postsurgery rehabilitation is about six months -- a June target that would force him to miss spring training.

"Everyone is going to be evaluated this spring," said Gomes, noting there will be a vacancy at one of the starting safety positions. "You want to be at your best. You don't want an injury like this."

But Gomes knows he is fortunate to be a player in this medical age. A reminder of his good fortune can be seen on associate head coach Rich Miano's scarred left knee.

During the 1989 season, Miano suffered tears to the ACL and meniscus in his left knee. He played a few games with the injuries, then underwent surgery that kept him from playing in 1990,

Back then, Miano recalled, "The first thing you go through is: Will I ever walk normally again?"

At the time, the operation was called "reconstructive surgery," and the recovery period was up to 18 months.

Miano resumed his career in 1991, playing another four seasons of an 11-year NFL career.

"The evolution of sports medicine has come so far," he said. "An ACL (injury) is not career-ending anymore. It's not even career-threatening."

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