Back home in the Islands where Karl Lorch was born and lived, there is an expression known as "Hawaiian time."

"If you give a party and tell people it's supposed to start at six, they probably won't show up until seven, maybe even later," Lorch said yesterday. "But nobody gets upset, nobody worries about it. People just have a way of enjoying everything and taking life as it comes because everything always works itself out in the end."

It has been that way in Lorch's career as a professional football player. In four topsy-turvy years, he has advanced from a role as seldom-used substitute at USC to a point where he is now being talked about as a starter on the Redskins' defensive line this season.

That is what George Allen said last weekend: that if Lorch continues to play with the ferocity he has exhibited in the first four preseason games, a place must be found for him in the starting lineup.

Lorch insisted that he has heard about Allen's comments second hand from his friend, Calvin Hill, and that he had not even bothered to read the newspaper the day the Redskin coach paid him the ultimate compliment.

"Nah, what's the use of reading that stuff, anyway," he said. "I hardly ever read the papers. If coach Allen said it to me personally, that's the only way I'd take it for fact. Nobody's said anything to me about starting. I almost prefer not to talk about it."

If Lorch plays regularly, someone is going to lose a job, and that is always a ticklish subject around any football team. At the moment, Lorch has been used mostly at left defensive end, the position currently manned by one of the team's most popular, durable and valuable veterans, Ron McDole.

There are several team officials who will tell you that McDole, the 37-year-old "Dancing Bear," will still do a lively two-step this season, but that Dennis Johnson, the right end, nay be in some jeopardy.

"I played right end in college and in the World Football League," Lorch said."Right now, I'm getting used to the left side and I can play inside at either defensive tackle, too. I guess I'm pretty comfortable at all four spots.

"But I don't like to think of it as taking anybody's job. I didn't work in the offseason thinking I'm going to beat this guy out or that guy out. Wherever they tell me to go in the game, I'll go there. I'm working to get myself a job, not to put anyone out."

Lorch, 27, 6-foot-4, 262 pounds, has endured hard knocks and harder times to achieve his current status. And yet, like the man said, somehow things have always worked out as if some ancient island god was hovering in his neighborhood.

At Southern Carlifornia, he saw a total of 30 minutes playing time in two seasons of football, yet was picked in the ninth round of the 1973 draft by the Miami Dolphins.

When an illness known as "Homesick for Hawaii" struck Lorch a week after arriving at the Dlophin training camp, he packed his bags, went home and worked for several weeks escorting tourists to their tables at Don Ho's nightclub in Honolulu.

Lorch heard the Hawaiian team in the new World Football League was holding tryouts. So he walked on, unannounced, wowed the coaches with his speed, agility and USC background, and went on to start 31 games for the team until the league folded in 1975.

Lorch's guardian agnel was still looking after him because he collected most of the money on his Hawaiian contract. And, in 1975, the Redskins traded a 10th-round draft choice to Miami to obtain him.

Lorch came to Carlisle for the first time last summer and was the last man cut by the Redskins before the 1976 season opener against the Giants. But he stayed in the area, living at Terry Hermeling's townhouse for wayward football players, and continued to work out on his own.

When receiver Larry Jones suffered a season-ending ankle injury in that first game, the Redskins immediately recalled Lorch. He played in 13 games, distinguishing himself mostly as a fierce and fearless hitter on the special teams.

Lorch said he assumed that would be his role again this season, but every week he has been romping and stomping in opposing backfields. He is the Redskins' second-leading tackler in the preseason and has been in on a half-dozen sacks, three unassisted against the Packers Saturday night.

The skeptics will argue that Lorch hasn't played against a quality offensive line yet. But that will change Sunday when the Redskins take on a strong New England unit that was primarily responsible for the Patriots setting a number of team of offensive records last year.

But Lorch has his sights on a game later on the season against Tampa Bay. The Buccaneer coach is John McKay, the man who kept Lorch on the bench for two years at USC.

"I spoke to him only once in the two years I was there," Lorch said. "He was so busy handling athletic director and head coach, and I don't really blame him. I was also playing behind some pretty good people. Everywhere you looked there was an All-American."

Still, Lorch has a vivid memory of his last practice as a USC senior before the 1973 Rose Bowl and the Trojans' upset victory over top-ranked Ohio State.

"Coach McKay asked all the seniors to stay after practice that day and he gave us a talk about what the game meant and all that," Lorch said. "Then he shook eveyone's hand and when he got to me he said, 'Good luck, Jim.'"

"I probably should have said, 'Thanks, Ara,' but I just ran off the field laughing and shaking my head. When we play Tampa Bay, maybe I'll go and introduce myself to him."