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Thursday, October 28, 2004 - Page updated at 12:00 A.M.

UW Football
Notebook: Sack-happy Hopoi may be back in bag for UW

By Bob Condotta
Seattle Times staff reporter

Manase Hopoi had three sacks against No. 1 USC.
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Manase Hopoi insists he doesn't pay much attention to statistics.

But there's one number he's got on his mind — 24 — the NCAA record for sacks in a season set by Arizona State's Terrell Suggs in 2002.

"That's my goal," said Hopoi, a defensive lineman for the Washington Huskies. "That's something I'm putting out there for myself to go get. I mean, if Terrell Suggs can get (24 sacks) it's out there for me or someone else to break the record, and why not me?"

But while Hopoi leads the Pac-10 in sacks this season, he's unlikely to get to Suggs' record — Hopoi has eight with four games remaining in the season.

If getting Suggs' record is really Hopoi's goal, though, that could be good news for UW's future. Hopoi is listed as a senior. But he came to UW in 2001 as a partial qualifier and sat out his first season, and he can return for another season if he earns his degree by the end of the academic year.

Hopoi has said all along that's his goal. But some close to the UW wonder if Hopoi's success this season won't change his mind. As one person close to the program pointed out, the argument of staying in school to get his degree won't wash if he already has earned it.

Hopoi, though, says he still plans to return.

No matter what, his play this season remains one of UW's few bright spots. He had three sacks and tied a school record with six tackles for loss at USC, enough to earn praise even from notoriously hard-to-please defensive line coach Randy Hart.

"He's decided to be a leader on the field," Hart said. "He's worked hard to play hard, and he's been an example in every aspect."

Due to injuries, Hopoi is playing defensive tackle again after spending much of the season at end, and he thinks it's no coincidence he had his best game of the season playing inside.
 
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"At end I have to stay pretty much in containment and the (offensive) tackles pretty much know where I'm going," he said. "Inside, the guards don't know if I'm going inside or outside. I like it a lot better."

If he stays at tackle, however, Hopoi may have to add some bulk to his 290-pound frame, particularly to play in the NFL.

Bonnell back in mix

Carl Bonnell was able to practice Tuesday despite reaggravating a groin injury in practice on Monday, further muddying the team's QB picture.

Gilbertson said he wanted to see all three quarterbacks practice again yesterday before making a decision on who will start against Oregon. He could make an announcement today.

"People may say that's wishy washy or whatever but I want to take my time to see what's going on," he said.

Gilbertson gave little indication which way he's leaning other than to say that Bonnell "was the starter prior to his injury and I want to see if he's all the way back." If Bonnell is healthy, Gilbertson said there's a chance he'll start. Bonnell started the Stanford and San Jose State games before being injured.

If Bonnell can't play, UW would go with Casey Paus or Isaiah Stanback.

Bonnell said he took part in all of Tuesday's practice and "felt pretty good. I was able to be out there and compete."

Notes

• CB Cody Ellis, now also playing receiver, had some impressive moments in practice, Gilbertson said, and could see action at receiver Saturday.

• WR Charles Frederick did not practice Tuesday and remains doubtful.

• DT Wilson Afoa (sprained foot) is out.

• TE Jon Lyon continues to be bothered by a knee injury suffered in training camp that has limited UW's use of two tight end sets.

Copyright © 2004 The Seattle Times Company

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