comscore Julian Gener comes back with a vengeance | Honolulu Star-Advertiser

Julian Gener comes back with a vengeance

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    2015 October 10 SPT - HSA photo by George F. Lee. Hawaii linebacker Lance Williams (17) and Hawaii linebacker Julian Gener (8) worked to contain San Diego State running back Donnel Pumphrey (19) in a game last Saturday night at Aloha Stadium.

A fresh cut over his right eye gave Julian Gener the look of a boxer coming out of a 12-round decision.

The University of Hawaii linebacker had to be helped off the deck a couple of times in last Saturday’s game against San Diego State, but managed to go the distance in his latest comeback from injury; turning in the most productive performance of his Rainbow Warrior career.

"I think the biggest thing for me was just getting through the game," Gener said. "That was a big weight lifted off my shoulders.

"It wasn’t so much ‘I need to make every play.’ I wasn’t focused on that by any means. I was just focused on having fun out there and being out there with my guys."

After missing most of the previous two games, Gener made it through the final whistle with a career-high 19 tackles in UH’s 28-14 home loss to San Diego State. He made 14 solo stops while posting the highest single-game total in the Mountain West Conference this season. It was the most since Solomon Elimimian’s 20 tackles against Utah State in 2007.

"That’s a pretty big performance. I haven’t seen one of those in a long time," UH defensive coordinator Tom Mason said. "I think it was one of those deals where he just got in a rhythm, things were flowing right for him and he made a lot of plays."

Injuries have been an unwelcome companion for much of Gener’s three years at UH. His first season ended after three games due to elbow surgery. He missed six games last year due to a fractured fibula. Last month, he suffered a concussion at Wisconsin which kept him off the travel roster for a trip to Boise State the following week.

He returned to full duty last week in a five-linebacker scheme installed by Mason. The defensive line’s toil in occupying blockers gave Gener the freedom to flow to the ball. His appreciation for the efforts of the linemen stems from having performed those duties as a defensive end at Bishop Amat High School in California.

"I know what it feels like not being able to make the play and holding the tackle off so the linebacker can," Gener said.

Gener, listed at 5-foot-11 and 225 pounds, moved to linebacker at Mt. San Antonio College and was the Central Conference Defensive Player of the Year in 2012. He emerged as a playmaker early in his UH career and owns the team’s lone interception to date this season, a pick against Colorado in the season opener on Sept. 3.

Gener’s tackle tally last week was part of a defensive effort in which UH surrendered 107 yards and two touchdowns to SDSU in the first quarter then tightened the gaps to hold the Aztecs to 2.6 yards per carry during the rest of the game. The Warriors will have to tweak the scheme again when they face a New Mexico option attack that ranks second in the MWC in rushing (290 yards per game) and scoring (34.6 points per game) on Saturday in Albuquerque.

"It’s something to build on," Gener said of last week’s adjustments. "It wasn’t a win, and we’re not happy with that and we’re not settling, but it’s a good foundation to start building on for the rest of the season."


>> Position: Linebacker

>> Major: Sociology, senior

>> Hometown: West Covina, Calif.

>> Last School: Mt. San Antonio College

>> Behind the number: Wore No. 28 his first two years, his brother Justin’s number in high school. Switched to 8 this season, his number in junior college. "I was just like, might as well switch it up. I’ve been hurt twice in 28 so maybe cut the ‘2’ out and I’ll have a better year."

>> Quick Facts: Prior to last week’s 19 tackles, previous career high was 11 tackles at Colorado last year and at Oregon State in 2013. … Came within four short of the school record set by Eddie Klaneski in 1996. … His interception return for a touchdown against Oregon State in 2013 remains UH’s last pick-six. … The middle child of seven (four brothers, two sisters). … Oldest brother, Jeremy, was a kicker at Louisiana-Monroe in 2008. UH closes the regular season at home against the Warhawks on Nov 28.


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