Injuries continue to deplete the Rainbow Warrior ranks, but they keep battling back to finally grab the victory over Wyoming along with the Paniolo Trophy and a first place perch in the Mountain West’s West Division.
Quarterback Ikaika Woolsey went 8 for 9 passing for 173 yards and two touchdowns in a relief appearance for Taylor Graham who may have broken his foot. Running Back Diocemy Saint Juste carried 17 times for 135 yards and his first score of the season while picking up the slack for a stricken Steven Lakalaka.
All of this critically needed offense came courtesy of the offensive line, which has performed well in spite of injuries of their own. All the more appropriate that Offensive Line Coach Chris Naeole was the speaker at the NaKoa lunch meeting today.
Naeole pointed out that Ben Clarke and Kody Afusia continue to battle ailments, but keep playing and executing well. That dedication is impactful and Naeole said that is the kind of player HE would want to play with. He applauded Brenden Urban who left the team for a while due to economic reasons, and Dejon Allen who is “athletic with no fat…the sky is the limit for him.” Of Sean Shigematsu, Naeole said with his size (6′ 6″) and long pipes (arms) he should be able to block anyone.
Naeole tells his 16 boys that every day you have to tell yourself to earn it (playing time). He makes sure no group works harder than his at practices. During film reviews he is not shy about pointing out who is working and not….“the film sees all, you can’t hide,” he says.
In two games the O line was called for a chop block which Naeole says were good calls. On one play his lineman got off to a late start, and on the call in the Wyoming game the defender stunted into the chop.
The O line will play even more critical roles in the upcoming weeks with Steven Lakalaka’s uncertain status after being dinged. Although Preese Joas looked good on his one carry for 14 yards, there are other duties and aspects of the game he must learn like pass protection.
Fortunately, Diocemy Saint Juste is finally healthy but is better suited to perimeter runs versus between the tackles. He is a quick, smaller back but is the biggest of those still healthy noted Naeole. Saint Juste is also a good blocker.
To prepare for the National Football League, Coach Naeole tells his players the more positions they can play the better. They must also be cerebral as they will be asked to draw up defenses on the chalk board and explain the play.
Naeole himself played for five years with the New Orleans Saints, followed by seven more with the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Kahuku graduate played O and D line, “I never came off the field!” As a Colorado Buffalo, he played O line, but did get some time on goal line defense.
Coach is very excited about the five primary prospects – all high school seniors – for next year but takes nothing for granted and keeps in touch with calls and letters all the time. Of course, he is already targeting 2016 prospects.
Written by: Gareth Sakakida
From L to R:
Head Coach Norm Chow; Kainoa Kaulukukui; Ikaika Woolsey; Margaret Kaulukukui; Solomon Kaulukukui, Jr; Shari Kaulukukui; Kim Fujiuchi; Scott Kaulukukui; Jordan Wynn
Ikaika was the first honoree of the Solomon Kaulukukui Sr Memorial Fund supporting summer school for the Rainbow Warrior Football team through Nā Koa. Mahalo to the Kaulukukui family for their generosity and support.
“We didn’t get it done; we have to get better. All I know what to do is practice harder. Michael Jordan practiced so hard the game was easy…that’s what we have to do.”
Wynn lauded the defense which played lights out. They got to the quarterback, held a Pac 12 team to 21 points and that should be enough to win.
The scripted offensive plays were all pass plays to open the game since Colorado liked to load the box and play man. Still, Wynn likes to have balance so after throwing, Hawaii ran a bunch. Running back Steven Lakalaka averaged 6 yards a carry on 19 tries.
After the first half where Quarterback Ikaika Woolsey went 9 of 20 for 56 yards, Jeremy Higgins started the second half and went 4 for 17 for 66 yards before leaving with what is now diagnosed as a broken left (throwing) hand. The bedeviling thing is Hawaii’s quarterbacks look fine in practice and warm ups. Wynn said he would be losing his mind if our quarterbacks did that (game performance) in practice!
Woolsey went back in because he is believed to be the best chance to win. Wynn said he did not want to just go down the line to number three. The team was still trying to win and Woolsey represented that best chance. He had thrown just one interception in four games, but is trying to take care of the ball and becoming very conservative. He doesn’t take chances like he did in Fall camp.
Compared to Woolsey’s 70 yard pass out over the end zone on a Hail Mary attempt, Jeremy Higgins’ throws look weak, but that is because he palms the ball according to Wynn. He said he has never come across that before, and the ball does not come out as quick as it could like that. However, in the weight room, Higgins is as strong as anybody!
To rate the quarterbacks, Wynn first looks at proper footwork, then finishing run plays, decision making, and finally production. This is a production oriented business he said.
Right now Woolsey has some mechanical issues tapping his feet rapidly while in the pocket. Quarterbacks should be pretty still or maybe move up a few inches. Low center snaps also account for some timing issues. With Kody Afusia’s snapping hand injured Brendan Urban will be the guy.
As a quarterback with the University of Utah, Wynn underwent four shoulder operations then medically retired from the game. Norm Chow became Hawaii’s head coach in Wynn’s senior year, and came over the year after.
As a young coach Wynn said it is tough, you have to be thick skinned. “I hate to lose more than I love to win” he said. On the way home from Colorado he said “I did not want to talk to anyone, I was pretty pissed. When I got back I watched game film and was pissed again!” Wynn has had a bleeding ulcer so has to develop perspective on the game just being a game.
Then again, even he admitted it is hard to tell a football player to lay down. This came out when he talked about how valuable Scott Harding is and the need for him to protect himself.
Speaking of value, Wynn also praised the Service (scout) Team for their hard work every day without public notoriety. To mimic the opponent, Service Team members watch a lot of film of players’ techniques that they need to project on the practice field.
Woolsey and Taylor Graham will be numbers one and two preparing for the Rice game after a bye with Beau Riley stepping up as number three.
Written by Gareth Sakakida