Okay, so that was only for the second half but look, we have to find something positive! That is exactly what the Hawaii coaches are trying to do…find things and ways to keep the players focused and positive.
Offensive Coordinator, Don Bailey, confirmed that at the final Nā Koa luncheon for the 2015 football season. In our situation it is difficult to keep playing hard, Baily said, and Coach Naeole is making sure players are going to class, seeing their tutors…doing their jobs.
During the game Naeole called the team together in a disappointed fervor and broke his headset while doing so. He set the team straight and they performed much better after that. Bailey said when Coach speaks, everyone listens, especially when stuff starts to break.
In keeping things positive, the focus is on the seniors. “You always remember your last game” reminded Bailey. He admitted the crowd size has some effect on the players but we still have plays to play so the players have to remain plugged in.
There were a lot of improvements Bailey pointed out. The O line is playing better…they have allowed 12 fewer sacks than a year ago. We have rushed for over 200 yards the past two games – in the spread formation! And, we did it using one Tight End, not two or three as many ground gobbling teams do.
Bailey marveled at Ben Clark who played with a fractured foot and started nearly every game in his UH career. “It takes more than just the minimum to be a good football player” Bailey said.
Paul Harris is just a few carries away from a 1,000 yard season which has not happened at Hawaii for a while. Harris is learning to mentally prepare to be a gladiator as he will get hit on every play, especially since Mel Davis is still hurt.
Bailey does not believe Bo Reilly will be seen in a game this year simply because Ikaika is better in the system at this moment. They will also play it smart and not burn a redshirt year for Aaron Zwahlen.
Rigo Sanchez’s on-side kicks, which were planned, were surreal on Saturday. Bailey said Rigo is an extraordinary kicker and he practices that kick. They just had to wait for a chance to try it.
This year has been tough as coaches scheme and plan for whatever the players have the ability to do. Everyone must be good enough to play their assignment….as a coach, “I can’t protect all 11 players.”
And injuries, well we’ve had more than our share. The injury of the year is MCLs, maybe because of the attention given to targeting, resulting in tackling the lower extremities.
Bailey feels there is good depth on the offense for next year. There are a couple of redshirt O linemen who have great size. He thinks we need a couple of young tailbacks. Above all he feels a need for more speed.
Written by: Gareth Sakakida
Naeole spoke to the team who he reported is in good spirits and told them what he expects. He wants to make sure the coaches maintain their focus as well since they are naturally concerned about their jobs.
Naeole does not foresee any overnight changes…when you have the same players and same coordinators, you do what you do. The hardest part of the new job is the administrative stuff….scheduling and setting up the meetings….”the football part is easy,” he said.
Everyone has a part in why things are not working as well as they would like. Yet, Naeole feels Hawaii has a real good group except that they have not had everyone healthy from day one. “Our primary running back has not even played this year; we haven’t had guys start consistently” Naeole reported; however, he added that right now the injury situation is getting better, slowly.
Ben Clarke is considered a soldier by Naeole. “He doesn’t get a boo-boo and run to the coach; even with his injuries he straps it up week in and week out.” On Eperone Moananu, Naeole said he is needed on defense and doing a good job filling holes. But, “I want him back!”
While on the sidelines, Naeole will have the coordinators call their plays and he will assume the role a Head Coach plays which is determine personnel, decide on going for two, call timeouts, and most importantly, providing the motivation for the next four weeks.
He will challenge the players to play for each other and for underclassmen, to perform as if it were a job interview to propel them into the Spring, and to feel good about themselves.
Naeole will watch practice very carefully to make personnel decisions for the game. He will confer with the Offensive and Defensive staffs on that issue. Although Naeole was an offensive lineman, he feels comfortable talking defense, “I think I know what it takes to make stops.”
Naeole said recruiting will be the purview of the next staff as his focus is on the next four games. If he is looked at as the next head man, so be it…“we’ll see where things land.”
Written by: Gareth Sakakida
Graduating from Crenshaw High School before heading to Hawaii gave Abraham Elimimian, Assistant Coach-Secondary, an appreciation for toughness and for the perspective of others.
That is why he loves his players who retain their high morale and are ready to bounce back. And he loves a Head Coach who will fight the officials if something is wrong. Coach Chow argued his point(s) so vehemently during the Nevada game that he was assessed a 15 yard unsportsmanlike penalty. But Elimimian doesn’t blame Chow for what happened, and neither would anyone who has seen the calls he have seen this year!
Okay, editorializing is done.
Elimimian showed relatively extensive film of the three phases of the game, especially defense. On special teams, he had great praise for kicker Rigoberto Sanchez who he called “unsung” and for returner Nick Nelson who gets better and better on each kick. On offense, he explained the opponent’s defense and what kind of play opportunities it opened up. On defense, he showed how the Hawaii secondary shut down Nevada’s pass option, resulting in the Wolfpack’s switch to a “12 formation”…two receivers and two tight ends…and just lining up to run the ball and see who is tougher.
Hawaii did well early but the lack of execution in the second half doomed us again. Elimimian felt attrition was to blame. The Warriors are all banged up so the third line is going in now.
Air Force is next up and everyone knows they run the option and have a pretty good O line who just lunge at defensive tackles and linebackers. An option team’s mark of success is 3.5 yards a carry so we have to force them into second and eight or third and seven situations. The Falcons can also throw and Elimimian preaches “respect your opponent.” Naturally, his first job is to stop the pass.
Elimimian reported that Nick Nelson is 11th nationally in passes broken up and if he could just catch them, we’d be all right (the secondary has only one interception so far). Backing up the secondary this weekend will be Vasquez Haynes and Jalen Rogers.
On freshman recruits, Elimimian said defensive back Rojesterman Farris has size and speed but needs to develop toughness. He projects Farris to be a good one down the road.
The guys hate where we are…they need to learn why we lost the way we did, but we’re very close!
Written by: Gareth Sakakida