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O-line starters nearly complete

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    Warriors place-kicker Scott Enos booted a field goal yesterday at practice.

The University of Hawaii football team is close to setting a starting offensive line, with senior Brysen Ginlack apparently earning the job at left guard.

The coaches were prepared to award the final spot — center — to Brett Leonard, a junior who redshirted in 2009 after transferring from Saddleback College in Mission Viejo, Calif.

"But after watching the film (of practice) a second time, we left it the way it was for another day," line coach Gordy Shaw said.

That means that Leonard and Bronson Tiwanak, a senior from Damien, will continue to compete for the center’s job vacated when Matagisila Lefiti had foot surgery. Lefiti will miss the first three games.

Shaw said left tackle Austin Hansen, right guard Adrian Thomas and right tackle Laupepa Letuli have secured starting jobs.

Leonard also was competing against Ginlack at left guard. But after yesterday’s practice, Shaw confirmed that Ginlack "is the starting left guard."

Ginlack redshirted last year to focus on academics.

"I think he’s a very humbled young man because of what happened last year, (when) football was taken from him," Shaw said.

Shaw said Ginlack returned with renewed enthusiasm.

"He gives us really solid physical play," Shaw said. "He’s a very strong, powerful individual. "Bulla" is a guy who’s willing to do anything. Whenever we put him out there, he’s done a very good job."

The Warriors were forced to scramble when Lefiti injured his foot during the final quarter of the Green-White scrimmage in the spring. Lefiti was able to run sprints after practice yesterday, but he still is on track to miss the Sept. 2 opener against Southern California, and the ensuing road games against Army and Colorado.

Tiwanak, a walk-on, "gives us a good solid player," Shaw said. "For the most part, he’s doing an outstanding job."

During unsupervised workouts this summer, Leonard and redshirt freshman Chauncy Winchester-Makainai took snaps at center. Neither had ever played that position.

During training camp, Winchester-Makainai appeared to struggle.

"He was really swimming with making the calls," Shaw said. "It became evident after a couple of days that his physical play was really deterred by his mental play."

Winchester-Makainai was moved to right guard, where he is a more natural fit, Shaw said. He also can play tackle. Shaw said Winchester-Makainai is "absolutely" a candidate to return to center in the future.

Leonard admittedly had concerns with the crash-course adjustment to center. But McMackin said Leonard has the skills to play that position.

"He might be a better center than anything else," McMackin said. "He really sticks on guys. He’s worked hard on his snaps."

Shaw said: "The center position is like playing tackle. You’re put on an island sometimes. You have to be a little more athletic. Brett picked up the calls. Everything in our offense flows from the center position, and he picked up the offense."

With the opener eight days away, Shaw acknowledged that it is late to not have established a set lineup.

"That’s book 101 on the offensive line," Shaw said.

But Shaw said he is not concerned because there are seven players who have practiced strictly with the No. 1 unit. He said five members of the second unit do not take snaps with the first team.

"If we were throwing a 2 in there to see what it’s like, that would be different," Shaw said. "We have seven guys we consider starters. It’s a matter of which five we want to play."


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