POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Dec 22, 2010
These days, Hawaii football player Kealoha Pilares is having positive(-yardage) thoughts.
"I'm not fair-catching anything," said Pilares, who is expected to be the Warriors' punt returner in Friday's Sheraton Hawaii Bowl.
The past three games, the Warriors have returned two of 21 punts for zero yards. Greg Salas, UH's leading receiver, was instructed to fair catch every punt.
Pilares was used as a punt returner against Idaho. He had two returns for 28 yards. But he suffered a strained hamstring while warming up at halftime. Salas was told he could be the punt returner if he promised not to attempt any returns.
Part of the reasoning was the risk of injury; another part was the faith in the Warriors' four-wide passing attack.
There is no such clause in Pilares' agreement.
Returning punts, Pilares said, "is another opportunity to make a big play. It's fun. It's an adrenaline rush. ... I know the guys will block for me. I have faith in them."
Because this will be his final UH game, Pilares said, "Why not take risks? That's what I'm going to do. We'll see what happens."
The Warriors were measured yesterday for the rings commemorating their share of the Western Athletic Conference title.
Sheraton Hawaii Bowl
The rings, which will be paid from UH's participation share from the Hawaii Bowl, will be presented in a special ceremony next month.
Head coach Greg McMackin is designing the rings.
"I've been to a lot of bowls," McMackin said. "I know what a real ring looks like."
McMackin said the ring is a memento for this successful season, as well as a recruiting tool.
"It doesn't hurt recruiting when you have a championship ring on," McMackin said.
The Warriors insist it was part of the usual routine, but Kainoa LaCount has been a No. 1 offensive tackle in practices the past two weeks.
LaCount has started three games this year -- two as an injury replacement for right tackle Laupepa Letuli, and in place of left tackle Austin Hansen in the regular-season finale.
"Just trying to give guys rest," LaCount said.
Brett Leonard and center Matagisila Lefiti have been rotating at left guard, a position usually played by Brysen "Bula" Ginlack.