Brent Rausch said he spent the offseason being better focused on football.
Now the picture is clear. Rausch yesterday was named the top backup to University of Hawaii starting quarterback Bryant Moniz.
"I thought Brent has had his best overall (training) camp," UH offensive coordinator Nick Rolovich said of the fifth-year senior. "He earned it."
The announcement came a week after Moniz, a junior, was named the No. 1 quarterback.
Moniz and Rausch took all of the snaps during team drills yesterday morning. Junior Shane Austin, who started one game last year, and redshirt freshman David Graves were on the side taking "mental reps."
Rausch was 3-for-7 in situational drills, although one of the incompletions was intentionally thrown out of bounds because of effective defensive coverage.
"It probably was my worst day yet," Rausch said after practice, "but it wasn’t that bad. I didn’t throw an interception or anything like that."
Rolovich said: "He has to be able to let that stuff roll off his shoulders."
Rolovich said it was Rausch’s consistency, coupled with renewed confidence, that made the difference.
"He’s more confident than he’s ever been — in the offense and in himself," Rolovich said. "He’s more accurate than he has been."
Soon after being hired by UH in January 2008, Rolovich recruited Rausch, who had a unique resume. Rausch’s high school competed in an eight-player-per-side league. Rausch had only one full season at College of the Desert (Calif.) before transferring to UH in June 2008.
Rolovich was not dissuaded by Rausch’s background.
After reviewing videos of Rausch’s games, Rolovich determined, "I really liked the way the ball came out of his hands. I thought he had a strong enough arm to play in this offense. I thought he was accurate on deep passes."
In 2008, Rausch was named UH’s No. 1 quarterback during training camp. But he ceded that position, and Greg Alexander was the starter in the opener against Florida.
"I don’t know what to say about that," Rausch said of the demotion. "It was out of my control."
He played in three games that season — none in September or October — and finished 6-for-14 for 51 yards.
He missed all of the 2009 season because of a fractured finger on his right (throwing) hand.
This training camp, he focused on anticipating where plays will develop.
"From day one, Rolo has been telling me to see it before it happens, and throw the ball. … I definitely took a couple on the chin the past couple of weeks. But I hung in there, and kept making my throws, making my reads."
Rolovich said he expects Rausch to be ready if needed. Of Rausch’s lack of experience — three games in the first two UH seasons — Rolovich said: "His JC coach told me he’s better in games. He called him a ‘gamer.’ I can see that in Brent."