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QB competition comes a bit early

By Stephen Tsai

LAST UPDATED: 10:01 a.m. HST, Nov 14, 2011

RENO, NEV. » The Hawaii football team returns to Honolulu this morning with more questions — and concerns — than when the Warriors left four days earlier.

Topping the list is the search for a starting quarterback following Bryant Moniz's season-ending injury.

The competition was supposed to start in the coming offseason.

Moniz and Shane Austin are seniors. David Graves, a third-year sophomore, is considered the leading contender entering the spring. Cayman Shutter and Kevin Spain are on the active roster. Transfers Jeremy Higgins and Stump Godfrey are redshirting and will be eligible in 2012. Ikaika Woolsey joins the Warriors as a grayshirt in January.

The Warriors do not plan to recruit another quarterback for the 2012 class.

Austin and Graves were bracketed at No. 2 behind Moniz. But offensive coordinator Nick Rolovich said Austin was better suited to get the call Saturday night.

"I felt Shane was more accurate in practice the last two weeks," Rolovich said. "They're real close. Shane made some plays for us."

Rolovich said Austin and Graves will compete for the starting job this week.

Shutter is expected to be elevated to No. 3.

Spain is nearly fully healed from shoulder surgery in 2010.

There was hope that Royce Pollard, who has knee and ankle ailments, could have been available Saturday. If he can go against Fresno State this coming weekend, then freshman Trevor Davis might be moved back to left wideout.

Darius Bright, who had missed two games because of a variety of ailments, started at left wideout Saturday night.

On the offensive line, Brett Leonard played well at left tackle. He is expected to remain there the rest of the season. If the Warriors qualify for the Hawaii Bowl, left tackles Austin Hansen and Clayton Laurel might be available.

Hansen is serving an NCAA suspension that expires after this month. Laurel, who started nine games, has a broken arm.

Safety Leroy Lutu was on crutches after suffering an undisclosed injury Saturday night. That might open the way for true freshman Brian Clay as a backup to either strong safety Richard Torres or free safety John Hardy-Tuliau.

For now, the Warriors are focused on winning at least two of their final three games, the minimum requirement for qualifying for the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl.

"We're going to have to step up for the last three games," linebacker Corey Paredes said.

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