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Harding, Iosefa carrying too much of Warriors’ load

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GREENBELT, Md. » When Scott Harding went down with a deep thigh contusion early in Saturday’s game at Navy, it was apparent how much the University of Hawaii football team needs this guy.

The question now is — assuming he heals up quickly — should UH continue to ask so much of him.

When healthy, Harding does three things for the Rainbow Warriors: punt, return punts and receive passes.

Now, you can debate how good he is at these things but after what happened on both ends of the punting game in the 42-28 loss it’s obvious that Harding would have performed better than his replacements and UH would have had a better chance of coming out of Annapolis, Md., with its first win of the season.

We admire Harding’s versatility, but the fact that this team relies on one player for so much is one of its many problems. On a team with any amount of quality depth, it’s doubtful Harding would be tasked with all three of those duties.

It’s unique and kind of fun (and with an 0-9 team you take your fun where you can get it). But it’s not the ideal way to do things.

It’s a fine line in football how and when you use your most talented and versatile players. Most of the best athletes are capable of multi-tasking, but the coaches have to determine if it’s worth the risk of injury to have them on the field a large amount of the time.

It’s tough when you lose your best punter and punt returner because he gets hurt playing receiver. As I tweeted during the game, losing Harding was like losing three players.

But when you lack depth as UH does, you’re put into tough situations.

One of them is running back; Hawaii rolled the dice giving such a heavy load to Joey Iosefa in his return to action after a chronic foot injury finally got better.

This worked out well after Iosefa ran as hard or harder than anyone can remember, rumbling 35 times for 191 yards.

Iosefa is big and strong and the Navy players said he dealt out as much as he received in the way of physicality. But, especially when you add in his blocking ability, Iosefa may be this team’s most important player to try to keep healthy.

Maybe 35 carries in a game isn’t too many for him. Against Navy, Iosefa’s mere presence changed a lot of things, including UH’s effectiveness with play-action passing.

Iosefa — and solid offensive line play and quarterback Sean Schroeder’s accuracy — turned the Rainbow Warriors attack into the offense Chow had envisioned.

Whether that can be maintained, built upon and turned into a win soon depends in large measure on Iosefa staying healthy.

UH hasn’t suffered an inordinate number of injuries this season, but not having Iosefa available for all but a few plays until Saturday is one it could not afford. Harding and defensive tackle Moses Samia, also injured against Navy, are critical to any success Hawaii may enjoy down the final stretch of three games.

One of the things coaches talk about is "doing your one-eleventh." But for players like Harding and Iosefa, especially on a team with thin ranks, the fraction of contribution is much larger.


Reach Dave Reardon at or 529-4783. Read his blog at

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