Q&A with Mack Part 1

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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