Hawaii quarterback Bryant Moniz returned to action prior to the Warriors’ departure to the East Coast.
One of his primary protectors also expects to be ready by the time the Warriors face Army on Saturday.
After sitting out the Warriors’ practices since being knocked out of last Thursday’s opener against USC, Moniz looked sharp in 7-on-7 and team periods against the scout defense yesterday.
"He didn’t look to have a whole lot of rust, threw the ball well and was dialed in," offensive coordinator Nick Rolovich said.
Moniz had some light duty early in practice but was given a heavier workload as the Warriors got into team periods, with Brent Rausch and Shane Austin next in the rotation.
"(Moniz) took reps today and he is going to be our starting quarterback," head coach Greg McMackin said after the Warriors’ final on-campus workout before leaving on a two-game, 13-day road trip.
"He’s been fine. The doctors and trainers and all of us care about everybody’s health and we’ve just been real conservative. He didn’t have headaches or any of the symptoms from concussions, but we wanted to just be careful. Today was the first day he’s really taken reps and he’ll be ready to go."
Moniz got off to a slow start against USC, but completed 18 of 36 passes for 269 yards and a touchdown. He also rushed for 38 yards on 11 carries.
He ended most of his runs by sliding or stepping out of bounds before a USC defender could deliver a hit. Not so on his last play of the game.
With the Warriors driving in the third quarter, Moniz scrambled to the USC 5 and, with the goal line in sight, cut back toward the middle of the field, where he was met by linebacker Michael Morgan.
"That end zone is like Lord of the Rings," Rolovich said. "It’s their precious."
Right tackle Laupepa Letuli has also missed this week’s practices with a strained calf suffered in the second half against USC. He said the injury is improving and he expects to practice tomorrow and be ready for Saturday’s game.
"I’m a little nicked up, but that’s the way football is," Letuli said.
Senior Kainoa LaCount stepped in for Letuli in the game and has practiced with the first unit the last two days.
The snaps he took against USC marked his most extensive playing time since 2007 while at College of the Canyons. LaCount didn’t play in 2008 while working through eligibility issues and saw limited action in two games last season.
"I was pretty nervous to tell the truth," LaCount said of his first few plays last week. "But after that it felt good."
LaCount, who can play either tackle spot, reported for his senior year in better condition than a year ago after a full offseason in the Warriors’ training program.
"He’s trimmed down a lot. He’s lost a small human being in terms of his weight," UH offensive line coach Gordy Shaw said of the 6-foot-6 320-pounder.
O-line shifts gears
After holding off USC’s imposing defensive front last week, the Warriors’ offensive line will have to adjust to an Army scheme that relies on quickness to rush the passer.
Army recorded six tackles for loss, including one sack, in a win over Eastern Michigan last Saturday. At 6-foot-1 and 235 pounds, defensive end Josh McNary is the program’s career sacks leader with 18.
"Their scheme is to make you block five guys and cover you as long as they can," Shaw said.
"If they rush five and one guy wins, they win. Four out of five is a good percentage, but it’s not good enough for us to win this game. We have to win every play five out of five to get the ball out and get it to our receivers."
The Hawaii line gave three quarterbacks time to pass for 459 yards and cleared the way for 129 rushing yards last week.
"It’s all about confidence and believing in yourself and I don’t think any one of those guys had any doubts in their minds that they were going to be able to do the job," Shaw said.