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Stephen Tsai | The Honolulu Star-Advertiser | August 13, 2014

Woosley gets the nod for Hawaii

HONOLULU, Hawaii -- Coach Norm Chow made official what was evident for a while: Ikaika Woolsey is the Hawaii football team's No. 1 quarterback.

Woolsey had taken nearly all the first-team reps during the first eight practices of training camp.

"If all things stay the same, Ikaika deserves the right to be the starter and the rest of the team deserves the right to know," Chow said after Tuesday's practice. "I don't think that's anything newsworthy if you guys have watched practice. You know we do it objectively. ... We study the tapes. We talked to each of the players, and right now Ikaika Woolsey is the starting quarterback against the University of Washington" in the Aug. 30 opener at Aloha Stadium.

Chow said fifth-year seniors Taylor Graham and Jeremy Higgins will compete for the No. 2 job.

"They're both going to get equal reps," Chow said of the Graham-Higgins duel. "Eventually, we're going to have to make that decision, as well."

Chow said Woolsey is the best fit in the Warriors' spread offense, which requires a mobile quarterback.

"The days of the drop-back guy, the 6-foot-5 guy, the Peyton Mannings are giving way to the Colin Kaepernicks and the Russell Wilsons," Chow said. "You need to be a little bit more mobile now. [Woolsey] brings that to us. He has a strong arm. He can run pretty good. He's young. This is his third year in college, but he's young experience-wise. He's a very talented young man."

Chow said strength and conditioning coach Gary Beemer rates each player during the offseason program. Chow said Woolsey was one of three to earn an A-plus grade.

"We feel very comfortable with Ikaika," Chow said.

Chow said it was a difficult decision, noting Graham was his first recruit. Chow was hired in December 2011; a few weeks later, Graham completed his transfer from Ohio State.

Graham was attracted to the pro-set offense Chow coached as a longtime offensive coordinator. Graham started the first three games in 2013 before suffering an injury to his left [non-throwing] shoulder. He was reduced to cameo roles the rest of the season as the offense incorporated more spread schemes.

"He understands the situation," Chow said. "It's not easy to be told you're not the starter. It's a tough game. There's only one ball and one quarterback."

There nearly was a glitch when Woolsey's right elbow struck a defender's helmet on a follow-through in a scrimmage-like session.

"It hurt a little bit," Woolsey said, "but it's all good. This is football. You're going to get hit. Come Saturday, there's no excuse if I get hit or not. If it happens, it happens. Nothing is going to keep me from being out there."

On being named No. 1, Woolsey said, "It feels good. It's a weight off my shoulders. At the end of the day, I have to keep working hard because my expectation level for myself has risen. My teammates' expectation level of me also has risen. I have to continue to work hard every day."

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