In one sense, Brent Rausch‘s new look actually brings him full circle in his Hawaii football career.
Usually recognizable by his short blonde hair, Rausch has been sporting a jet black look under his helmet recently.
"I do it every once in a while," Rausch said. "My hair was black when I first came here."
That was back in the summer of 2008 and Rausch — now the lone senior among UH’s quarterbacks — is approaching the end of his college career after three seasons in a backup role.
He appeared on the brink of a breakthrough on a few occasions, but varying circumstances have limited his game action. Rausch enters tomorrow’s senior night game against UNLV with eight career appearances. He has completed 17 of 34 pass attempts for 189 yards.
"I pretty much had some ups and downs, had a little bit of a rough career here, but I got an education," said Rausch, who is set to graduate in the spring with a degree in sociology. "I’m still positive about it. It’s cool."
Soon after arriving on campus as a sophomore transfer, Rausch was picked as UH’s first-string quarterback in the wake of Colt Brennan‘s departure. But the job eventually went to Greg Alexander when the 2008 opener at Florida arrived.
He won a tight competition for the No. 2 spot in camp last year. But a seemingly innocuous fall during a practice in Seattle resulted in a broken bone in his throwing hand. That sidetracked him for the remainder of the season.
Rausch has again spent this season behind starter Bryant Moniz, making five relief appearances, the last coming in UH’s home win over San Jose State on Nov. 20. He’s also contributed to the scout team in practice at times to help the defense prepare.
Rausch stayed back last week while the Warriors played at New Mexico State due to a heavy workload in school, and depending on the game situation, hopes to get on the field tomorrow with his parents in town for the senior festivities.
"He’s really matured and appreciated his experience," UH offensive coordinator Nick Rolovich said. "It was probably not the whole experience he was looking for, but he stayed positive, has been a good teammate."
Not looking ahead
The Warriors held their final full practice of the regular season yesterday morning. Unlike last year, when UH still harbored bowl hopes before a season-ending loss to Wisconsin, they know they’ll have more practices awaiting after the senior night game. But the staff isn’t looking ahead to preparations for the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl just yet.
"We’re going to meet on the bowl on Monday. Until then I’m not even thinking about the bowl. I’m just thinking about UNLV," head coach Greg McMackin said.
"We’re truly taking one game at a time and that’s what we’ve prepared for."
The Warriors will have a little less than three weeks leading up to the Christmas Eve bowl game against a representative from Conference USA.
Returns a concern
UH special teams coordinator Chris Tormey said the Warriors have devoted more time than usual to kickoff coverage in advance of facing UNLV freshman Marcus Sullivan.
Sullivan leads the Mountain West Conference and ranks sixth nationally with 29.96 yards per return. He had a school-record 224 yards last week against San Diego State, including returns of 60 and 73 yards.
"He’s got excellent vision and patience, and reads blocking schemes well," Tormey said.
Rolovich up for award
Rolovich is among four finalists for the FootballScoop Quarterbacks Coach of the Year award.
Online voting factors into the selection, but the winner is ultimately determined by a committee of coaches. Voting runs through next Friday at footballscoop.com.
The other candidates are Boise State’s Bryan Harsin, Oregon’s Mark Helfrich and Virginia Tech’s Mike O’Cain.
Banquet on Sunday
UH will cap the regular season with the Alec Waterhouse Awards Banquet on Sunday at the Sheraton Waikiki. Cocktails start at 5:30 p.m. with dinner at 6:30 p.m. For more information, call 956-4513.