Asked if he’s in the rhythm he wants to be in now, compared to last year, Mac said:
“It’s been fun. It’s slower this time.” (HSB)
Happy with the work ethic of their team, Mac said:
“Every team has its personality. I thought last year’s team overcame adversity. This year’s team is still making it’s personality. One thing I really like about this team is the work ethic. They’re working their tails off, and I think it’s because we don’t have a bunch of stars and everybody’s competing and competition make guys work harder. All 112 or 113 guys and they’re all working hard. I give credit to the strength guys, Tommy (Heffernan) and Mel (DeLaura), but the players have an attitude about them.
The thing I like is now we’re going into spring so we’ve got to keep the intensity and we have to teach.
All the coaches, they’ve really worked hard on presenting and teaching and it’s important we do a good job of coaching it and improve on what we did last year.
Now we can actually work with them and watch them on film and everybody feels like they have a shot, so they’re really going hard.
I think these guys really have a great work ethic. That’s what they’ve shown me to this point. Now we have to get into the X’s and O’s and all that stuff.” (HSB)
Asked if it is a smoother transition to find new starters on D as compared to how they had to replace their starters on O last year, Mac said:
“The thing about defense is you run a package, but what I like about Hawaii is the guys we have playing defense are aggressive. So we get 11 guys aggressive to the ball, we just have to teach them to run to the football, tackle, and it is easier than last year. Offensively we were trying to run a system and nobody knows it yet. It’s way more difficult.
I feel very comfortable getting our defense together. I think we have a great defensive staff. It’s just a matter of teaching and finding the guys this spring and then we have guys who are going to join us (in the summer).”
Asked how concerned he is about the secondary after losing their top 4 CBs and a bunch of safeties, Mac said:
“We lost nine DBs and all the starters, and none of these guys really have game experience. Richard Torres is really the only one who has game experience and he was our backup nickel.
The good thing is we brought in some guys who we think are talented players. They have to learn our system, but they’re going to see the pass every day. We’re going to rep and teach and they’re going to get a lot of reps covering, and we have some good young guys who are coming up. I’m confident in the coaching, we’ve got Rich Miano and Chris Tormey. It’s a matter of teaching schemes, and athletically we have some good guys.
It’s game experience. In the secondary, you’re playing a coverage and if somebody busts, it’s gone. So that’s not as easy as the front seven. It’s something we’re going to have to teach well.” (HSB)
Asked how important it is for JC transfers like Lametrius Davis and Melvin Hopkins to enter school for the Spring semester, Mac said:
“Oh yeah, because they can work in the spring. We redshirted all of our JC players last year, except for Jovonte (Taylor). So all these receivers and DBs, we were sort of saving them. (Cornerback) Jeramy Bryant is outstanding. He got hurt (last year), but I think he’s going to be really good.” (HSB)
Asked if he feels he can do things differently because of his team’s work ethic, Mac said:
“I’ve coached the same way for a long time and we have things like Super Games. I want them to work hard and have some fun, too. This group is just really together. I wouldn’t say we have a bunch of leaders. They just group together. It’s a fun thing to see.
I’ve got the same philosophy. You have to care about your players and coaches and you have to teach and get better.
There are some things I don’t dwell on from last year because I got over it. This is a whole brand new team. We’re going to improve on anything that we learned from last season, but this is this year’s team.” (HSB)
Asked if there are players he’s looking at to take the leadership role or if that is something he’s going to see develop over the spring, Mac said:
“There’s guys like Brashton Satele, who’s played a lot of ball for us. R.J. (Kiesel-Kauhane) started for us. Obviously, John Estes was a captain for us last year. Kealoha (Pilares). There’s leadership, but it’s not like we have 35 seniors and everybody’s trying to be a leader. A lot of guys like Rocky Savaiigaea, Blaze (Soares), before they can lead they have to play between the lines, but they’re great leaders. Greg Alexander is a guy who’s done some things, but he’s not a yell and screamer.
I just like the way it’s all fitting together. We’re sort of letting it happen naturally. We’re not trying to make any leaders, but they’re working it out together.” (HSB)
Asked about how it seems he feels he has the pieces of the puzzle, Mac said:
“If we keep going like this (climbing) we can reach all of our goals, but it’s going to take a lot of work and we have to get a lot better. We haven’t done anything yet. The only thing we’ve done to this stage is we’ve really gone through a great pre-spring workout, now we have to have a great spring.
This spring is a crucial spring. We have to come together and get things taught and improve.” (HSB)
Asked if they are going to work more under center, Mac said:
“We’re not going to work that much under center.
We’re going to get our quarterbacks reps teaching the system. Greg’s going to get four reps, Brent (Rausch) is going to get two and Shane Austin’s going to get two. The other guys are going to have to take reps in individuals or scrimmages, but we’ve got to get those three guys ready and we’re going to give Greg most of the reps.” (HSB)
Asked if the spring is even more critical for the OL with a new OL coach, Mac said:
“I love the confidence of Gordy Shaw. We just met on our entire personnel today and he sees so much potential. He’s a positive guy and he sees so much potential with our offensive line.
He is really excited about coaching these guys. He’s an outstanding coach and he likes the guys we have. You’ll never hear an excuse out of him. We’ve worked hard at getting our protections and everything together with our schemes. It’s just a matter of teaching, and he’s a great teacher.” (HSB)
About trying to find a place for Inoke to play, Mac said:
“This spring we’re going to play him at running back and take a look at that. The key obviously is if he can block. He can scramble — we have to see how he runs as a running back and then we’ll look at him at slot. We want him comfortable and if he fits in there we know he can help us on special teams.
The thing about Inoke is he has so much versatility. So we’re going to take a look at that and if he feels comfortable and we feel he can contribute, then great. If not, we’re going to move him back to quarterback and let him fight it out for the backup role.
We’re not going to call it the “wildcat,” but he’s a natural. Now you’re in short yardage … now you’ve got option, and the thing we have those people don’t is he can throw the ball, too. So you’re not changing your offense, it’s just sort of a short-yardage changeup. … We’re going to add that and he can do that as a running back or even as a receiver. He’s got so many tools.” (HSB)
Asked if he would move Inoke to safety, Mac said:
“No, we’re going to use him on offense. We feel pretty good at safety. We’ve got Spencer Smith, we could have played him last year. Hits and runs and was our best special teams player last year. Kenny Estes, and we’ve moved Lametrius. We’re going to look at both safety and corner because he’s a physical guy who can run. He’s a big corner, but he’s such a great athlete he can play free safety, too.” (HSB)
Asked about Vaughn Meatoga, Mac said:
“Vaughn’s a stud. Vaughn’s our best defensive lineman right now. He was good last year. He never comes out of his stance; he can play all day long at the same pad level. He is going to be a big-time player. Weight over 300 pounds, doesn’t look it, great kid. He’s tough and does everything.” (HSB)
Asked if they would have no big scheme changes on offense or defense, Mac said:
“Scheme-wise the only thing is I thought special teams needed a complete overhaul from last year. I feel we have a great special teams coach. I think he’s a great teacher. We’ve taken schemes from the best programs in the country. It’s not just taking schemes, it’s sharing ideas, because Chris coached special teams for a long time as a head coach. He’s got his own philosophies, I’ve got a lot of confidence in him.” (HSB)