Archive for March 31st, 2008

Starting QB job is up for grabs

March 31, 2008

HSB Note: “Just go get it. That’s the philosophy that Nick Rolovich lived by as a Hawaii quarterback, and one he’s imparting upon the next generation of Warrior signal-callers as their position coach. Six quarterbacks will be out to impress the UH coaching staff in a series of 15 practices starting today. But regardless of which player emerges over the next month, the spring practice “winner” will have much to prove before he can be named the official starter at Florida on Aug. 30. To guide a completely reconstructed offensive unit, new offensive coordinator Ron Lee is implementing some tweaks to the run-and-shoot offense — such as directing the quarterbacks to take snaps from under center on occasion, a move intended to allow greater flexibility for running plays and bootlegs.”

Asked what they are looking for in a starting QB, Ron Lee said:
“What we’re looking for from the quarterback is he stays within the scheme of things. Our routes and our reads will be a little bit different in the sense that they have to be aware that they can’t just freelance. Colt (Brennan) had a lot of that — he scrambled around, slid around. And they’re gonna have to do that at times, but we’re going to have to be very, very disciplined.” (HSB)

HSB Note: “Kahuku graduate Inoke Funaki was cited for his improved leadership and desire in being penciled in at the top of the depth chart entering the first day of practice. He’s followed by senior Tyler Graunke (recently reinstated after serving a suspension for a violation of team rules), and redshirt freshman Shane Austin, who impressed the coaches with his offseason workout regimen. In no particular order, former scout team leader Jake Santos, Iolani alum Kiran Kepo’o and Castle graduate Bryce Kalauokaaea round out the spring prospects. Junior college transfers Greg Alexander and Brent Rausch arrive in the summer and could potentially win the starting job in the fall, as well.”

Expecting a lot of changes in the QB depth chart before the season starts, Rolo said:
“I anticipate change, switch-ups and shake-ups. We gotta see how people respond to situations.” (HSB)

HSB Note: “Rolovich, once a backup to Tim Chang, etched his name in Hawaii football history by leading the Warriors to eight wins in nine games in 2001. He expects a positive attitude from each player regardless of where he begins on the depth chart.”

Expecting a positive attitude from each QB, Rolo said:
“One thing I stress is, control what you do. Learn from (the others), and do what you can do with your reps. You can only control so much, and the things that you control, you deal with. The things that are out of your control, you let them happen, and the chips will fall where they will.” (HSB)

HSB Note: “Graunke, considered the favorite to inherit the job from Brennan last season, doesn’t see a reclamation of his alpha status as a given. He’s been throwing every day with the likes of receivers Malcolm Lane, Michael Washington and former Warrior Chad Mock, and is banking on his game experience being a deciding factor.”

Expecting his game experience to help him win the starting job, Tyler said:
“I’m approaching it very optimistically, actually. Pretty much that’s been my situation for my whole career, second string and fighting for that top spot. I don’t consider this any differently. I’m going to be out to prove everybody wrong and to earn that spot.” (HSB)

Rolo told Inoke that Tyler missing the Super Games activities leading up to Spring Practice that:
“rarely things fall into your lap in life in general.” (HSB)

Working on improving his progressions in the pocket, Inoke said:
“It’s kind of my personality to be real kick-back, laid-back, you know, island style. I just wanted to show more. It’s something I do want to do to help this team, be more of an example, a leader. Especially when the coaches named me No. 1.” (HSB)

HSB Note: “Rolovich was impressed with the diligence that Austin, a walk-on from Camarillo, Calif., displayed by appearing in the coaches’ offices at all hours, seeking knowledge of the system during this offseason. The freshman took snaps from under center exclusively in high school.”

About how he wants to win the starting job, Austin said:
“I want to go open up at Florida — I don’t think of it as I’m the youngest guy out there. I’m thinking we’re all kind of on an even playing field. I’m fighting for a job just as much as the next guy.” (HSB)

About how he could be the dark horse in the race, Santos said:
“I’m totally aware of what my role could be on this team, a backup or being able to compete for a starting job. That’s the way I look at it, as wanting to help my team win. Whatever’s best for the team is what I want. My last year, so I just have to put it all out there on the line.” (HSB)

Kepo’o should be fully cleared to practice, but Rolo said:
“his health is something we want to be careful with.” (HSB)

Rolo also said that Kalauokaaea can’t be discounted and is an:
“an impressive-looking athlete” (HSB)

HSB Note: “Rolovich conceded it’s impossible to distribute reps evenly among all six candidates, as there must be a pecking order to start things off.”

About the QBs, Ron Lee said:
“This is their opportunity. It’s under fire.” (HSB)

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Q&A with Mack Part 2

March 31, 2008

About the importance of Spring Practice for their new receivers, especially with the loss of all of the starting WRs who were excellent teachers too, Ron Lee said:
“Spring is crucial. In the past four or five years with June, the philosophy during the spring was, ‘get the backups ready.’ It’s different this year. We lost everybody, we’re looking for some players. Last year (the starting receivers) were coaches. Now, it’s different. Absolutely no such luxury. You lose the caliber that we’ve lost, I mean, those five (the four receivers and quarterback Colt Brennan) will probably play in the NFL. You don’t see that very often. Michael Washington, Aaron Bain, John Medeiros, Greg Salas, Malcolm Lane — they have tremendous shoes to fill.” (HSB)

About entering Spring Practice as the #1 QB, Inoke said:
“It’s definitely a new experience for me coming in as number one. I just want to let (everybody) know that I can lead them. Especially at the quarterback position. It’s the position that the rest of the offense and team look to as leader, whether they are trying to be a leader or not.” (HSB)

About how Ron Lee’s offense will differ from JJ’s offense, Tyler said:
“I don’t really have a good feel for it yet, but I’ve been running Coach Jones’ offense and I’ve seen people put their own twists on this offense throughout my whole career and it’s going to be interesting to see what Coach Lee wants to do with it.” (HSB)

Asked what is the key to getting the offense going after losing so many starters, Mack said:
“We’re definitely in a rebuilding mode on offense. Number one, I believe in (offensive coordinator) Ron Lee. He’s going to call the plays here. When we were together before (at Oregon Tech), I actually called the plays on offense. I believe in him so much I want him to have that opportunity. There’s three guys in the country, the world, who know the run-and-shoot best. Mouse Davis, June Jones and Ron Lee.” (HSB)

Asked what his role will be with the offense, Mack said:
“I’m going to let the coaches coach, but I’m not going to just stand around. Things that I see, I’ll point them out. I’m going to coach the same way I have on defense.” (HSB)

Asked if the OL can bounce back from their bad game vs. Georgia, Mack said:
“I think our offensive line is going to be a strength for us with three starters back, including (center) John Estes. We’re going to try to get 10 or 11 guys ready to play at Florida. I think we have the depth there and I really believe in our offensive line coaches.” (HSB)

Asked who are some of the players on offense he thinks will surprise the fans, Mack said:
“A guy who’s really been working hard this offseason is (quarterback) Inoke Funaki. He’s really improved himself. Another guy people are going to be impressed with is (receiver) Greg Salas. He’s really taken himself to the next level. He’s matured, and grown physically, picking up speed and strength.” (HSB)

Asked if the personnel they have coming back dictates more running in their offense, Mack said:
“We lost so many star players from last year that we’re going to go back to basics. We’re going to have a quarterback who’s still in the gun, but will be under the center some of the time. We think that will help our running game. We’ll be able to bootleg, we’ll be able to play-action. We don’t want to put all the pressure on the quarterback. We had a great quarterback the past couple of years. What people are doing (on defense) is widening out the ends and just coming up field. So we want to be able to run the stretch play, misdirection. Not have everything be on the quarterback.

Quite honestly, we want to win early on defense. Everywhere I’ve ever been, it’s been win early on defense. For the offense, we have spring, summer and our early games to get better. Offensively we feel we have some talent, and we’ll have some complementary talent coming in with the recruits. I have the utmost confidence, but all offenses have to get their timing and learn to work together.

We’re going to have a well-rounded offense. We’re going to emphasize not giving up turnovers and getting turnovers. We’re going to emphasize moving the chains, field position. That’s really an important thing to us.” (HSB)

Asked if declaring the QB race wide-open keeps the guys on their toes, Mack said:
“I think so. The best thing about competition is it makes you better. That’s one reason we got better on defense, because we played 20 players. I want to do the same thing on offense. We want to go into Florida with 10 or 11 offensive linemen, two deep at receiver. We’ll settle on a quarterback by then. We have got to have good depth.

As far as the quarterback position, it will be very competitive. Tyler did some great things when he came in last year. Inoke’s an incredible talent and a great leader. We’re going to get a good evaluation on all the quarterbacks we have here in the spring, and in the early fall we’ll evaluate the JC quarterbacks, give them some shots. It’s going to be competition right down to a couple of weeks before our first game. We’ll make a decision at a certain point, but I think the competition’s going to make everybody better.” (HSB)

Asked if the other side of that is developing a clear leader as soon as possible, Mack said:
“As soon as a guy separates himself from the pack, we’re ready to go. But I do want to look at those junior college players. I told the guys here that up front. We do have to make a choice a couple weeks before the game. Because that guy has to run the team, get the reps. We’re not going to be a two-quarterback system.” (HSB)

Asked how he sees his relationship developing with the player they select as starting QB, and if it will be anything like JJ’s relationship with Colt, Mack said:
“My goal is to have a good relationship with every player on the team. Whether a guy’s a walk-on guy, a scholarship guy, first string, last string, offense, defense, it doesn’t matter. I’m not going to become buddies with them. It’s a business to me, but it’s a business where you care about your players. We’re going to have a good relationship with the quarterbacks. What I’m saying is, to me, it’s having a good relationship with everybody. Not just the star players. I want to meet with every player after spring practice one-to-one and talk with them about how they can get better, talk to them about their plusses and minuses.” (HSB)

Asked what is the biggest difference for him in coaching college players and pro players, Mack said:
“You can have so much more of an influence on your players in college. In the pros, you get to coach the best players in the world, but you don’t have as much personal influence. They’ve got agents, they’ve got their accountants. So you’re really looking at just the football. Over here, one of our goals is to graduate the players. So you can influence them in many ways. That’s why I like college better than the pros.” (HSB)

Asked if the Lee brothers will draft their own teams for the spring game, Mack said:
“We’ll have them be the head coaches, let them have the pressure. I think I’ll split up the other coaches so they each have some offense and some defense. Then we’ll draft teams. I think I’m going to have the players do that. Maybe have a couple of captains on each side. Maybe have the coaching staff draft. I haven’t made up my mind yet.” (HSB)

When it was noted that he took his first day off (on Easter) since becoming head coach, Mack was asked when he gets to take a real breather and he replied:
“It’s been a blast, really a lot of fun and I’ve gotten to meet a lot of people. The president of the university (David McClain) and the chancellor (Virginia Hinshaw) have been extremely helpful, and having Jim Donovan as the new athletic director, I think that’s outstanding for us. He’s going to be great to work with. Things have been going pretty fast. So after spring recruiting I’ll have a chance to get away a little bit.” (HSB)