Archive for March 30th, 2008

Q&A with Mack Part 1

March 30, 2008

About how his D will be the face of the team, Mack said:
“I think we’re going to be a physical, tough, attacking defense, and for the first time in nine years the defense will be the face of the team. The face of the offense is going to evolve. We have players on offense who will evolve into outstanding players. But right now our strength is on the defensive side. The experience is on the defensive side. I’ve got to be honest. With Blaze Soares added in with two All-WAC linebackers and (defensive ends David) Veikune and (John) Fonoti, (and defensive tackles) Keala (Watson), Fale (Laeli), Rocky (Savaiigaea), we’ve got excellent depth. We’ve got some guys on defense who are gonna be hittin’ it. And why not just say it? Let’s let the big dogs eat. That’s really where it’s at right now.” (HSB)

Asked what will be the main focus during Spring Practice, Mack said:
“You’re going to see a lot more fundamentals. On defense you saw us doing that last year. You’re going to see quarterback drops and other techniques, receivers working on how to properly catch the ball, offensive linemen working on individual technique. Pros is more scheme, college is more individual fundamentals. We don’t have as much experience among the players, so we have to coach them and make the right evaluations. This spring is really important to us, on both sides of the ball.” (HSB)

Asked to talk about his process in evaluating players, Mack said:
“Different people evaluate different ways. I try to be consistent. It’s my job to get the best 11 players on the field. If a guy is good enough to win for us, he’ll get chances to get into the ballgame so they can show what they can do. When the lights are on, that’s when you truly know what the player is all about. We will evaluate players daily. We will grade them daily, weekly, in the scrimmages. Every position coach will grade his players, just like in a game. Because, like I’ve said, this isn’t P.E. football, you don’t play a kid because you like him. I don’t care who plays, it doesn’t matter to me, as long as he’s the player who should be out there.” (HSB)

Asked how many players he needs to cut before fall camp, Mack said:
“We have 114 guys out for the spring. We can take 105 to (fall) camp. Then we have 25 to 28 recruits coming in. So, unfortunately … then we can pick guys to come back after camp if they’re good enough to help us. Again, this isn’t P.E. football.” (HSB)

Asked if cutting hard-working players who just don’t cut it is the hardest part of his job, Mack said:
“Yes, that’s the bad part about coaching. And that’s why you want to do as good a job as you possibly can in evaluating. So that we can be fair, but also so we can build the best football team possible. That’s the tough thing, you have to take some opportunities away from some guys, but the NCAA limits you on the numbers.” (HSB)

Told how most college football teams have some guys who will probably never play in a game when the game is on the line but are kept to help the team win games by what they do in practice, Mack was asked if he had a lot of those and replied:
“The main thing on a football team is that everybody finds a role. If they’re a starter that’s great, if they’re on special teams that’s great. There are other guys that if they can find a role on our scout team, that’s how they’re going to make the team.” (HSB)

Asked about their depth last year with “shock troops” off the bench such as Keala Watson, David Veikune, Blaze, and Mouton, Mack was asked if they will have enough dept to continue to “shock troops” concept with those players moving to starting spots and replied:
“We’re going to try to keep that going. Last year we had real good depth. We want to build that in the spring. (Defensive ends) David Veikune and John Fonoti are special players. What we did last year helped them, because we rolled them in. They could play 100 percent, fresh when they came in. We had Amani (Purcell) and Karl (Noa) starting, good players themselves. David and John, right now, until we find some guys to give them depth, they’d better be in shape because they’re not coming out of the game.” (HSB)

Asked if he had any news about Francis Maka’s NCAA clearance status, Mack said:
“Not yet, that might take some time. But he’s clear for spring practice.” (HSB)

Asked which player he most expects to break out on D, Mack said:
“I think Brashton (Satele) has really used the offseason workouts to his advantage. He’s matured and improved his game. We already knew he was a great athlete. I think Cal Lee did a great job coaching him this last fall. He’s one of the most improved guys on our football team. He’s had some nagging injuries, but I think he’s maturing and toughening up.” (HSB)

Asked if they would make any changes in defensive philosophy from last season, Mack said:
“Defensively I think we keep our same scheme. The coaches, Cal Lee, have really taken some pressure off of me these past couple of weeks working with the defense. Rich Miano, George Lumpkin are outstanding coaches. Dave Aranda and Ikaika Malloe, I couldn’t be happier with the two guys working with the defensive line.” (HSB)

Asked if Lumpkin is the LB coach now, Mack said:
“Cal is the linebackers coach. I’ll call the plays on defense. I’m going to game-plan with the whole staff like I did before. We’re not going to change anything. Obviously, I want to be more involved in game management. During that time, Cal will work with the defense, but I’m going to still call the defenses. In the spring, George will work with the corners. In the fall, he’ll work with the linebackers, so that when I work with the offense Cal can oversee the defense. George has a lot of experience and brings a lot of versatility.” (HSB)

Asked who are some of the leaders he sees emerging this year, Mack said:
“I think Keala, David Veikune, Adam Leonard, Solomon (Elimimian), Keao (Monteilh) and (Ryan) Mouton in the secondary. Offensively, (Keith) AhSoon, John (Estes). Certain guys follow certain guys, so they can all lead in their own way. We have a great bunch of guys and obviously most of them were part of what we did last year. We lost Colt Brennan and Michael Lafaele, two great leaders. But I think we have more leaders on this team. The majority of the guys on this team are leaders. I saw that in the Super Games. There’s a lot of leadership, and it’s not separated by offense and defense.” (HSB)

Asked how happy he was that Adam and Sol decided to come back instead of going to the NFL, Mack said:
“I know Adam considered it. He had a great year last year, and so did Solly. But I think them coming back is going to be great for Hawaii and for them. They’re outstanding players and I think our linebackers are the best in the country. I know that puts them in a situation, challenging them, actually our whole front seven. But if someone out there wants to use it for, what, what do you call that? Bulletin board material? Then bring it on. Because I think our guys are as good as anyone.” (HSB)

Asked what motivational tricks he has as head coach, as he had good pregame and halftime motivational stuff last year, Mack said:
“That just comes naturally at the time. But what we have done is planned ahead strategically for the first three games.” (HSB)

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Feature article on the Lee brothers

March 30, 2008

HSB Note: “Hawaii’s spring game will put the Warriors’ new coordinators — who played side-by-side for a season in college and later combined to build championship prep programs locally — in the unfamiliar position of taking station on opposite sidelines at Aloha Stadium.”

About how they are not looking ahead to the Spring game, Ron Lee said:
“That game is 15 practices away, we’ve got a lot of work to do. But I think that’ll be a fun situation.” (HSB)

HSB Note: “Both have certainly had enough to fill their days since being elevated to UH’s coordinator positions by first-year head coach Greg McMackin. With spring practice opening tomorrow, there haven’t been many free moments to soak in the significance of their mutual ascent with Ron taking over a prolific UH offense and Cal helping organize the Warrior defense.”

About having the Lee brothers as his coordinators, Mack said:
“I don’t know if any brothers have been offensive and defensive coordinators (on the same Division I team), but I can’t think of two better brothers to do it. They’ve both got great experience, they’re great people, they’ve got a great family and they’re both winners. I’ve got the utmost confidence in them. … I’m excited for them and excited for us that we have two guys such as the Lee brothers to be in such important positions.” (HSB)

Looking forward to the season, Ron Lee said:
“That’s what I enjoy, helping these guys get ready to step up, to run on the field in Gainesville (for the season opener at Florida). This season is a huge challenge for the coaches. We’re all new coaches, we’ve got all new players, and that’s the challenge, that’s the excitement.” (HSB)

HSB Note: “The brothers embrace the challenges of the game, and it always provides a focal point for conversation at family functions.”

About how the Warriors dominate talk at their family gatherings, Cal Lee said:
“You can’t go around too much without talking about football because you’re around it constantly. So I don’t think we talk about too many things other than football. It’s ever-changing.” (HSB)

Ron and Cal might have easy-going demeanors when walking around, but their older brother Tommy said:
“they’re both pretty intense when they have to be. They might give you a low-key type personality, but when they have to turn it up a notch, they will.” (HSB)

HSB Note: “Football has long been a central theme for Thomas and Hazel Lee’s three sons. Tommy excelled as a quarterback at Saint Louis. Ron (Saint Louis) and Cal (Kalani) were rooted in defense. Reunited in college, they plugged the middle of the Willamette defense as the linebackers in the Bearcats’ 5-2 alignment in the late 1960s. All three transitioned to coaching, and out of necessity Ron made a career-defining decision to turn his focus to offense upon taking over a fledgling Kaiser program in 1973. In an era played primarily between the tackles, Ron countered his team’s lack of bulk by spreading four receivers across the field.”

About how Ron Lee used a 4 WR offense at Kaiser, Cal Lee (who ran Kaiser’s D at the time) said:
“In those days if you got 2 yards that was big, and we couldn’t get 2 yards. He was smart enough to decide that he had to make a change. As a head coach he wasn’t just going to bang it in there.” (HSB)

HSB Note: “It was Tommy, then a high school coach in Oregon, who directed Ron to a rival coach named Mouse Davis. Davis was implementing a similar system at Portland State. Ron has been studying the run-and-shoot ever since.”

About how he’s run the 4 WR offense for a long time, Ron said:
“We’ve run this formation forever, so I think we have a pretty good understanding of how teams have to defend the four wideouts. Ask me about a tight end and two backs, I don’t know much about that.” (HSB)

HSB Note: “The passing attack wasn’t exactly a hit at first, but the Cougars developed into a Prep Bowl champion in 1979 with the help of a former member of the swimming team the coaches convinced to give football a try.”

About the Lee brothers, Rich Miano said:
“You could just tell they had something about them. Cal was a hard-nosed, old-school type of guy and Ron was an innovator type of guy on offense. The brothers just fit perfectly together.” (HSB)

HSB Note: “Miano went on to productive careers at UH and in the NFL and has coached the Warrior defensive backs for the last nine years, working alongside Cal for the last five.”

About Cal Lee, Miano said:
“You can bring in all these new techniques, but (Cal) knows it still goes back to old school, it still comes down to tackling and blocking and toughness and desire. It’s very simple and it’s all about just being more physical than the opponent.” (HSB)

HSB Note: “At Saint Louis, Cal Lee was the head coach, with Ron coordinating the offense. They built the Crusaders into a prep dynasty, winning 15 Prep Bowl and HHSAA state titles. Although Saint Louis’ success seemed to be self-sustaining, it wasn’t without a little extra effort from the coaches.”

About how the St. Louis coaches learned from the college coaches that came to recruit their players, Delbert Tengan (an assistant for 14 years under Cal Lee) said:
“When the recruiters came from all the different colleges, they were always picking their brains on certain techniques, certain schemes and every year they went to clinics all over the country. They were always looking to stay one step ahead of everyone else.” (HSB)

HSB Note: “While the game has evolved over the years, some things remain constant, most significantly the role of family in their travels. All three brothers were on the staff when Saint Louis began its run of Prep Bowl titles in the 1980s and their parents remain regular figures in the stands — home and away.”

About their parents, Ron said:
“They’re our greatest fans. When we were 8, 9 years old, their whole lives were getting us to the games and potlucks. … Family functions were always built around football and it’s still the same today. We’re pretty blessed.” (HSB)

Overview of the Warriors

March 30, 2008

HA Note: “Sometime before the dawn’s early light tomorrow, a young man will sign a contract that will make him officially the University of Hawai’i football team’s video coordinator. By 7 a.m., he will be 25 feet above ground, on a portable tower, shooting video of the first practice of the Warriors’ spring training. That is how swiftly times are a-changin’ in the spinning UH football world.”

HA Note: “Under Jones, the quarterback usually was aligned in the shotgun, 4 yards from the line of scrimmage. Now the quarterback will be asked to take more snaps from under center. That change will open the running attack, which, in turn, should create more opportunities for the receivers. In the shotgun, the lone running back is aligned to the side of the quarterback. That limits the running options. It also gives the defense a chance to overload the weak side. When the quarterback takes snaps from under center, the running back can be aligned behind.”

About having the QB under center and the RB behind him, Daniel Libre said:
“I like it better that way. You can see more things.” (HA)

About having the QB more under center, Ron Lee said:
“There are a lot of advantages. The quarterback can keep an eye on the coverages. We can go on different (snap) counts. The running back can go right or left.” (HA)

About how teams will have to respect the run more and not just drop up to 8 players into pass coverage, Inoke Funaki said:
“The play-action is better when (the quarterback is) under center. Hopefully, you can freeze the linebackers. It’ll help the receivers get behind them.” (HA)

About being the #1 QB right now, Inoke said:
“Who doesn’t want to be the No. 1 guy? I put a lot of pressure on myself, too, knowing the coaches have me as the No. 1 guy. I want to be as best prepared as I can be. It’s good pressure. Sometimes I’ll be sitting around the house, and I’ll get up and go running.” (HA)

About learning the footwork to retreat quickly into the pocket after taking snaps from center, Inoke said:
“It might be tough in the beginning, but it will be worth it.” (HA)

HA Note: “Funaki has proved he can cut it. When he was in middle school, the neighborhood barber died. One day his mother brought home a pair of clippers. And that was when Funaki first began to cut his own hair. There were some rough cuts early, forcing him to wear a hat.”

About how learning to cut his hair is similar to how learning the offense, Inoke said:
“There were a lot of interesting haircuts. Like a lot of things, if you do it over and over, eventually you get muscle memory. You learn through trial and error, but eventually you’ll get better.” (HA)

HA Note: “Who could have envisioned that Libre, who was cut once from the team, would emerge as one of the top backs? Certainly not Libre, whose natural vision had deteriorated. At the urging of trainer Eric Okasaki, Libre underwent LASIK surgery last year. Libre’s grandparents founded Aloha Laser Vision, previously known as Faulkner Eye Care. The treatment helped Libre find the running lanes. Last year, he averaged 8.3 yards per carry, as well as 1.3 broken tackles per rush.”

About studying film of Adrian Peterson and Darren McFadden, other tall RBs, 6’1″ LWJ said:
“I like to watch and learn. There’s no harm in learning.” (HA)

About how participating in training this spring and in Spring Ball (which he couldn’t do last year) should help him, LWJ said:
“Last spring, I wasn’t here, I was at my (junior college), trying to get my AA (degree). I feel comfortable now. I’m constantly in the weight room. I’ve been hanging out with my teammates as much as possible. I know what the team team expects of me. I’m going to leave it in God’s hands, then see what happens.” (HA)

About how Greg Salas spent spring break at his family’s home in California but his father was on the road at the time, Greg’s father Mark Salas said:
“Bad timin.” (HA)

About how JJ told him to work harder midway through last season, Salas said:
“Coach (Jones) got to me a couple of times in practice, telling me to pick up my play.” (HA)

About how he put in extra workouts after practices after JJ’s talk, Salas said that during practices now:
“I gave it 100 percent.” (HA)

About working hard during offseason workouts, even working out with a trainer during spring break in California, Salas said:
“It’s a new year, a different year.” (HA)

HA Note: “A few experiments will be conducted in spring training. AhSoon, who started 13 games at left tackle last season, moves to left guard. Hisatake, who redshirted last season, and Letuli, a fourth-year junior, were expected to compete at left tackle. But Letuli and center Estes suffered pulled hamstrings during the 40-yard sprints last week. Letuli hopes to resume practicing Thursday, although he most likely will have to wait at least a week. During his UH career, Letuli has played tackle, guard, running back, tight end and defensive end. Tuioti-Mariner, who was the top center last spring, opens as the first-team right guard.”

About his amazing 610 pound squat (110 pounds more than any other Warrior), Lafu Tuioti-Mariner said:
“Squatting is my main thing. Look at my legs. They’re the biggest legs on the team.” (HA)

HA Note: “His lower-body strength can be found in the genes. His father, who competed in volleyball at the South Pacific Games, had a 45-inch vertical jump. Tuioti-Mariner, who is under 6 feet, uses his leg strength to gain leverage against taller defensive linemen. After a year redshirting and three as a backup, Tuioti-Mariner enters the spring as the top right guard. (HA)

About being the top RG right now, Lafu said:
“I’m not going to take it for granted. I’m still going to work hard. I’m a senior. I want to make it the best for my last year.” (HA)

About how he added nutritional supplements to his diet and cut out fatty food and candy, David Veikune said:
“I always liked candy. I used to eat it a lot.” (HA)

“For the 3-4 (defense), I would go to 7-Eleven and grab a lot of fast food. It was just fast food and candy. I loved Twix and Reese’s. John (Fonoti) and Brashton (Satele) used to see me grab a lot of candy, and they’d make fun of me. That’s not my diet anymore.” (HA)

HA Note: “Two years ago, Veikune needed to gain weight to play end in Jerry Glanville’s 3-4 scheme. Last year, Greg McMackin implemented a 4-3 defense that required more agile ends.”

HA Note: “Veikune, who is 6 feet 2, lost 25 pounds and now weighs 255. Yet he bench pressed a team-high 455 pounds, and ran 6.98 seconds in the L-test.”

About wearing Spandex pants during his sprint workouts, Veikune said:
“Any little piece of friction I wanted to get off my body.” (HA)

HA Note: “In recent years, it would not have been a surprise to see “Brashton Satele” appear in a medical dictionary. A variety of injuries kept Satele from fulfilling the promise expected of the offspring of one of UH’s top linebackers (Alvis Satele) and volleyball players (the former Lee Ann Pestana). Several times last season, there were discussions to move Satele to running back. But his play on special teams near the end of last season and his commitment to the offseason conditioning program boosted his stock. In team testing, he squat-lifted 455 pounds, a 140-pound improvement from a year ago.”

About how Brashton Satele has been hurt a lot during his Warrior career, Cal Lee said:
“He’s been unfortunate. This year people will see the Satele we recruited.” (HA)

About how he wants to be able to play again, Brashton said:
“I want to get on the field. I miss it.” (HA)

About Mouton, Rich Miano said:
“He’s the best corner we’ve had in the last nine years. He’s athletic. He has legit 4.3 speed (in the 40-yard dash).” (HA)

HA Note: “In team testing, Mouton had a vertical jump of 39 inches and a broad jump of 10 feet, 5 inches. He played nickelback with a sore knee, and against Washington, he was used as free safety without having practiced at that position.”

HA Note: “The coaches consider Monteilh, Robinson and Thomas as No. 1 safeties, even though there are only two positions. Monteilh, who can play both spots, has recovered from a torn left scapula, evidenced by his 315-pound bench press. Thomas, who was limited because of a hip flexor last season, had a 35 1/2-inch vertical jump in team testing. Robinson won’t practice this spring while recovering from shoulder surgery, but Gibson, who had knee surgery in October, expects to be cleared for non-contact drills. Keep an eye on Silva, a transfer from Oregon State and former all-star quarterback from Kamehameha-Hawai’i.”

About how he reported last to last year’s training camp while waiting for academic clearance, which took all season for him to try to catch up, Calvin Roberts said:
“It was frustrating at times. I knew I would get my opportunity if I worked extra hard, kept working out and prayed to the man upstairs.” (HA)

About running up to Koko Head Crater during offseason training, Roberts said:
“It was really nice up there. We saw Moloka’i. I liked the view.” (HA)

WAC, MWC, and the Big 12 will be working together for refs

March 30, 2008

HA Note: “Beginning this season the game officials could be regional groups, an amalgam of either WAC and Mountain West Conference officials or WAC, MWC and Big 12 officials working across conference lines. And, in 2009, get ready for combined WAC, MWC, Big 12, Conference USA and, maybe, even Pac-10 officials. The WAC is in the forefront of a long overdue move toward regionalizing the officials who work college football games and the 2008 season, pending final approval this spring, will be the first step beyond the experimental stages.”

HA Note: “The idea — and it is a good one — is that officials will no longer be tied to or identified with a single conference but come out of a regional pool that takes its orders and instruction together. The better to encourage a uniformity where there has sometimes been big differences in rule interpretation and enforcement.”

Hawaii-based ref Frank White (who has worked as a ref for 25 years) said that under the proposed system:
“you shouldn’t be able to see any differences on any game, whether it is an Air Force, Oklahoma or Hawai’i game. The (enforcement) should be identical.” (HA)

About the collaboration between WAC/MWC/Big 12 for refs, WAC commisioner Karl Benson said:
“Right now the WAC, Mountain West and Big 12 are demonstrating a sincere desire and interest in creating a better officiating system.” (HA)

AhSoon moving to guard and other updates

March 30, 2008

About moving Keith AhSoon to guard, OL coach Brian Smith said:
“We’re going to give him the first go at left guard. If for some reason he doesn’t pick it up there, we can move him back.” (HSB)

HSB Note: “Either way, it will be crowded at left tackle. Ray Hisatake, Aaron Kia and Laupepa Letuli will get plenty of spring reps there.”

About the competition at LT, Smith said:
“We’ll try to find the best of those three to play there. We want to create some competition.”

HSB Note: “The rest of the first line to start camp includes All-WAC performer John Estes at center, Lafu Tuioti-Mariner at right guard, and returning starter Keoni Steinhoff at right tackle. Coach Greg McMackin has stressed that nothing is set — except, perhaps, Estes at center — and the starting lineups could look a lot different Aug. 30 at Florida than they will Monday at the Manoa grass practice field.”

About how LWJ and Libre are both considered first string at RB, Ron Lee said:
“Put a slash between their names. Same thing with Dave (Farmer) and Mario (Cox) as the second group.” (HSB)

HSB Note: “Lee said Libre and Wright-Jackson will both see some duty at slotback this spring, but not extensively. Cox wasn’t even on the team a few weeks ago, serving a second suspension for not meeting off-field team standards. But the talented junior had a sit-down with McMackin, and so far Cox has done what is necessary to be a candidate for playing time in the fall.”

About Mario Cox, Ron Lee said:
“I want him to get reps. He might be in contention here.” (HSB)

Leona and Keala Watson at the Speed and Quickness Clinics

March 30, 2008

About how she and her husband Keala Watson go together to the Speed and Quickness clinics, Leona Watson said:
“I guess you could say that.” (HA)

HA Note: “To improve his first-step bursts, Keala, the University of Hawai’i football team’s starting defensive right tackle, decided to participate in the Hawai’i Speed and Quickness sessions each week at the UH athletic complex.”

About why he participated in each Speed and Quickness clinic, Keala said:
“I wanted to get faster during the offseason.” (HA)

HA Note: “As always, Leona decided to accompany Keala to the sessions. Leona and Keala have been sweethearts since his sophomore year at Nanakuli High School. They were married last November. Leona attends nearly all of the Warriors’ home practices on the grass field. Mel deLaura, co-coordinator of the sessions and the Warriors’ conditioning coach, noticed Leona was on the side watching Keala. DeLaura asked Leona to participate in the workouts. She reluctantly agreed.”

About Leona working out at the Speed and Quickness Clinics, Keala said:
“It’s fun to work out together.” (HA)

HA Note: “Keala praised his wife’s athletic ability and nimble footwork. Leona played volleyball at Nanakuli High, and has paddled for 10 years, starting when she was 11. She competes as a steersman or stroker for the Leeward Kai Canoe Club. She participated in the 2002 World Sprints in Tahiti.”

About her volleyball career, Leona said:
“I was a middle blocker, even though I was the shortest one. I’m 5-5 1/2. I guess they put me there because I had a lot of energy.” (HA)

HA Note: “That energy is well spent during the 90-minute sessions at UH. The sessions are designed to improve running techniques and jumping performances. Co-director Rich Miano emphasizes that running is “really a series of jumps.” ”

About how she enjoys the Speed and Quickness Clinics, Leona said:
“All of the (drills) are fun. They incorporate a lot of the things you need in sports.” (HA)

About how the kids push her to keep working at the Clinics, Leona said:
“What makes you not want to quit, even though it burns and gets your heart working, is when you see the little kids out there. When you see them do it, it keeps you going. ‘If they can do it, I can do it.’ ” (HA)