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Austin or Graves will seek to halt Warriors’ slide

November 19, 2011
The Associated Press

HONOLULU (AP) - The University of Hawaii football team needs to win two of its final three games to earn a berth in the Hawaii Bowl, but will have to do so without one of the nation's leading passers.

The Warriors (5-5, 3-3 Western Athletic Conference) won't have quarterback Bryant Moniz when they host Fresno State (3-7, 2-3) tonight at Aloha Stadium. Moniz will miss at least the rest of the regular season with a fractured fibula he suffered in the first quarter of last week's loss at Nevada.

Shane Austin or David Graves will replace Moniz, who leads the WAC with 273.3 passing yards per game. Moniz had started the previous 27 games and is one of three quarterbacks in UH history to pass for more than 10,000 career yards.

Article Photos

Shane Austin

Austin has one career start, while Graves has none. Both took the same amount of repetitions at practice this week.

Warriors coach Greg McMackin said the decision is going to be close.

"The competition is really helping and we'll make a decision when the time is right," he said.

Austin or Graves will face a Fresno State team that had its defensive coordinator, Randy Stewart, resign this week. Tim Skipper has taken over the role and will continue to oversee the linebackers.

Austin replaced Moniz last week and completed 17 of 38 passes for 246 yards with a touchdown and three interceptions. The Warriors' second straight loss eliminated them from WAC title contention.

"You always got to be ready," said Austin, who last started in a 17-10 victory over San Jose State in 2009. "In any situation you got to be ready, whoever you are, whatever spot you are on the depth chart, you always got to be ready to go in. If somebody goes down the team's got to count on you."

Austin's primary role to this point was being the holder on field-goal attempts.

Graves, who is considered the better scrambler of the two, has completed 16 of 22 passes for 123 yards this season.

"I want to get back out there and play the game I love," Graves said. "I'm ready to play. I want the ball in my hands all the time. I want to be a guy who can go in and can execute 100 percent. I want to be perfect or as close to perfect as possible. If I can do my job and get the ball to our athletes, good things are going to happen."

The Warriors, who are guaranteed a berth in the Hawaii Bowl with a winning record, host Tulane next week and Brigham Young on Dec. 3.

"We need to get these wins," Graves said. "That's the most important thing. We need to get these wins, get to the bowl game and get the win in the bowl game."

The Bulldogs, who have lost three straight, are allowing a WAC-worst 37.4 points per game and rank seventh in total defense at 444.0 yards per game. Fresno State is assured of just its third losing season in 15 years.

"It's always tough when there's a change during the season," said Skipper, a former Fresno State linebacker. "I'm excited about it. Obviously, I played defense here and I've seen some good defense here and I want to get back to that kind of defense."

The Bulldogs' offense is led by Robbie Rouse, who leads the conference with 116.6 rushing yards per game. Derek Carr ranks third with 266.1 passing yards per game.

Hawaii leads the WAC in sacks with 31 and ranks second in total defense at 373.1 yards per game.

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