Brent Rausch has emerged as the leading contender for the top backup job to University of Hawaii starting quarterback Bryant Moniz.
Rausch, a fifth-year senior, was deemed the most consistent through Friday’s afternoon practice. The UH coaches will make a decision after reviewing video of yesterday’s 2 1/2 -hour session.
"It’s close, but I’d probably vote Brent," said receivers coach Mouse Davis, the architect of the four-wide offense the Warriors use. "He has a little better completion percentage, and he has composure."
Entering training camp two weeks ago, Bryant Moniz, Rausch, Shane Austin and David Graves were named the top tier of quarterbacks. They split reps evenly for the first three practices.
On Monday, head coach Greg McMackin named Moniz No. 1 and, barring injury, the starter for the Sept. 2 opener against Southern California.
This past week, Moniz took the majority of the snaps in passing drills. Rausch, Austin and Graves shared the few remaining snaps.
Jan ken po — the rock-paper-scissors hand game — was used to determine the rotation order for the backups. Austin, a junior who started in UH’s victory over San Jose State in 2009, repeatedly lost, ending up at the back of the rotation.
"Shane’s philosophy was to do the same thing every time, and me and Brent picked up on it," Graves said, smiling.
In Austin’s situation, consistency was not a good thing. His undoing was "scissors."
"I always throw the same one up because I eventually think they’ll switch it off," Austin said. "If it’s not broken, why fix it? But I think it’s broken. I’m probably going to have to fix it. At least that doesn’t relate to my football skills. That’s strictly being bad at rock-paper-scissors. We’re not playing USC in rock-paper-scissors."
Offensive coordinator Nick Rolovich said each of the understudy candidates made improvements in specific areas.
Rausch, who did not take a snap last season after breaking a finger on his right (throwing) hand, worked on being more diligent.
"My biggest improvement from the past couple of years was my mind-set," Rausch said. "l think I should have been a lot more focused the past couple of years. I don’t think there’s an excuse for a kid not to be focused. He should be focused all of the time."
Rolovich said Rausch, who transferred to UH in 2008 after a season at a junior college, has been playing with confidence and maturity.
"For Brent," Rolovich said, "there’s the realization: Do you want this to be the end? Or do you want to end it right? He has the skill. He has the arm. Now he’s seeing things a lot clearer."
Austin has worked on his footwork.
Sometimes during the past spring training, Austin said, "I’d get a little lackadaisical, maybe be a little off-balance when I threw. I’ve worked on my footwork. That actually affects the accuracy and the power behind the pass. Power comes from your legs. I’ve been trying to utilize my legs a lot. It’s been helping a lot."
Rolovich agreed, adding, "The footwork needs to match up to the play. People say, ‘Oh, they’re in shotgun and they just take a three-step drop. Who cares?’ But there are different paces of a three-step drop on different plays. There are different foot angles, in relationship to where the shoulders and eyes are facing. All of those things have to match up to work to the best of his ability."
Graves, a redshirt freshman, spent most of 2009 on the scout team running an opponent’s plays. Graves is the best scrambler among the candidates. Now he is working on going through the four progressions — pass routes — before scrambling.
"He does some good things," Rolovich said. "He gives us the ability to package him in different situations."
Rolovich said that the original top-tier quarterbacks will remain in the same practice area. He said Cayman Shutter and Corey Nielsen will continue to run the scout team’s offense.
Man Fan Clinic meeting set
The Man Fan Clinic — a session coordinated by the UH football coaching staff — will be held Aug. 24 at the UH athletic complex.
For $20, each attendee will receive a "playback," a rundown of how the Warriors prepare for a game, a Q&A session with coaches and players, and refreshments. The camp is open to all males.
Check-in is between 6 and 7 p.m. The clinic begins at 7 p.m.
For details, call 956-6508.