The Hawaii football team has activated contingency plans if it needs to fill two key positions for Saturday’s road game against Utah State.
Right tackle Laupepa Letuli, who has emerged as the Warriors’ most consistent pass-blocker, and middle linebacker George Daily-Lyles are recovering from ankle sprains.
Both are expected to be on the travel roster when the Warriors depart this afternoon. But the extent of their availability remains in question.
Letuli said he has been receiving twice-daily treatments on his right ankle. He was injured on the final series of the second quarter of Saturday’s victory over Nevada.
"We’ll see what happens," Letuli said.
Offensive line coach Gordy Shaw said senior Kainoa LaCount, who served as Letuli’s injury replacement, is available to start. Shaw praised LaCount for being prepared.
"He’s always paying attention, he’s always taking mental notes," Shaw said. "He played very well in the second half of that game."
LaCount said the first few plays for a substitute are the most difficult. He was matched against Dontay Moch, the Western Athletic Conference’s best pass rusher.
"It was exciting, definitely a challenge," LaCount said. "The first couple of plays are hard because you’re coming off the side, and you’re not really stretched. You’re kind of cold, really. The first play is definitely a shocker. But after that, it’s all downhill."
LaCount was a heralded recruit after committing in February 2008. But his enrollment at UH was delayed while he earned transferable credits. Shaw said LaCount was probably "too heavy" in the 2009 training camp. But after a year of intensive training, LaCount is fit and a dependable blocker.
"He’s ready to play," Shaw said.
Because LaCount did not qualify in 2008, he had to join the Warriors as a walk-on. He said his school expenses are paid by his favorite woman.
"My mama," he said. "I love her. Put that down and write it."
Daily-Lyles said he hasn’t had X-rays, but knows he has a sprained right ankle. He said he was injured when a Nevada defender "rolled up on" his right leg.
He’s also getting twice-daily treatments.
"I still have the little limp," he said. "I call it the ‘gangsta walk.’ … I’m good enough to play, mentally, anyway. The body does what the mind wants."
If Daily-Lyles is limited, the Warriors have several options, some relying on the health of backup linebacker Po’okela Ahmad. He suffered from light-headedness during the Nevada game.
Some scenarios have Mana Lolotai or Jake Heun playing middle linebacker. There are schemes in which outside linebacker Corey Paredes can play in the middle, as well as a defense in which a safety can serve as an outside linebacker.
"If Po’okela is healthy, we can make some moves," defensive coordinator Dave Aranda said. "If he’s not, we can make other moves."