Coach’s Luncheon Report: 11/17/14

Norm ChowDidn’t it feel just great to see all the freaky football trajectories, drops, and misfortunes happen to the other guy for a change? We finally got our breaks and had things go our way overall…and that’s all that mattered! Here’s to it happening for a couple more weeks…and yet a couple more…to you of little faith!

Head Coach Norm Chow spoke to the Na Koa lunch meeting crowd, sans game film, and in the place of Defensive Coordinator Kevin Clune (who was told to get some rest and then have the defensive plan against UNLV ready by 3:00pm today) all due to the equipment problem in mid-flight and subsequent delayed flight to bring the boys and coaches back home today at 5:00 a.m. That’s 5:00am Monday instead of 1:30pm Sunday mind you!

It was quite an ordeal…yet the players remained professional, and with the assistance of Hawaiian Airlines, was able to be bused back to the hotel where they had lunch, dinner, was able to rest, shower, and even got in film review of the San Jose State game before returning to the airport for their midnight flight (which ended up also being slightly delayed) to Honolulu.

But, between you and me I’ll vote for the difficulties AFTER the game and let opponents deal with difficulties and bad mojo DURING the game.

Chow said he could tell by the practice last Tuesday that the boys would play hard for the seniors. The team had vowed to do so after the Colorado State game. And play hard they did…denying SJSU a score in seven drives inside the 25 yard line; blocking two field goal attempts; denying SJSU with an interception on the goal line; and getting that ONE long drive (14 plays) in the second quarter resulting in the game’s lone touchdown; AND ending a 17 game road loss skid! As Coach put it, “it’s not just a monkey…we finally got the gorilla off our back!”

The kick blocks were a long time coming as Special Teams Coach Chris Demarest exhorts his teams every week showing they’re so close….so close. “Demo” constantly looks for weaknesses in opponent’s kicking teams conjuring up ways to take advantage of them.

Chow said Iosefa is still a little tentative after coming back from his injury. If you watch the replays he seems to stop or slow down before hitting the line many times.

Oh, and don’t forget Scott Harding punting six times, one being muffed for a Hawaii recovered fumble, and one downed on the 2 yard line. A total of three punts were downed inside the 20. Chow plans on sending Coach Demo to Australia after the season is done to look for more players.

Asked about recruiting Chow replied, “we need depth.” He said the difference between the Pac 12 and Mountain West is depth. Last week Hawaii traveled with three inside linebackers and two quarterbacks….that’s all we have!

Chow feels the public can help recruit Hawaii players to stay home by being positive about the University of Hawaii. The coaching staff has their eyes on many players even if you don’t see them on the sidelines as they are limited to seeing a team only once. And if that team is playing another team they haven’t seen, they still cannot go to the game!

This week’s UNLV game is Senior Night and of Hawaii’s 21 seniors, one is in graduate school, 16 will graduate in December, three will graduate in the Spring, and one the following semester. Coach Chow thanked Na Koa for funding summer school tuition for the players which helps with the graduation rate. He lamented that at other schools the summer school is given to players whereas in Hawaii the program has to pay for it.

After the UNLV game, the next time you can see the Warriors in Hawaii as a team will be at the Awards Banquet on Sunday, December 7, on the Soccer practice field.  A registration form is accessible on this website under the News & Events tab.


Written by: Gareth Sakakida

Coach’s Luncheon Report: 11/10/14

Kurt GouveiaKurt Gouveia has not lost his local storytelling style.

Despite nearly a 30 year absence from Hawaii, the Rainbow Warrior Inside Linebackers Coach led a serious and oftentimes humorous (as only local style can) discussion through the Colorado State game film before today’s Na Koa lunch crowd.

Gouveia showed, as he put it, the good and the bad plays against CSU. Gouveia said, “the inspiring thing is the players are trying their best.” Which is evident on the film, or as he stated, “the eye in the sky does not lie.” He said the team’s effort gives motivation to his coaching journey with these young men.

Gouveia pointed out the players’ body language on the film: is that player “busting” to the ball? Does he want to be the first guy to make the play? Or is he “jogging” to the ball waiting for someone else to make the play? It was starkly evident on film.

He watches body language on the field as well: is the player fatigued; is it too much for a player; IS HE TIRED OF FOOTBALL? Tired of football? That is something inconceivable to Gouveia who stresses to players to play for the love of the game because for him, he feels truly blessed to have been able to play the game he loves, and to have that game support his family.

But now he is in a position to impart his knowledge to young players. Being a coach makes him feel responsible and it is also a source of pride…pride to do his best to elicit effort and attitude from his players; to make them want to do more than the coaches ask; to RISE ABOVE THE COACHING!

(By now we see why Gouveia did not need to use the microphone!)

Gouveia complimented the players, especially those from Coach Greg MacMackin’s era who have gone through so many changes in team culture, style, and techniques. He said sometimes we forget how good they are, and sometimes they forget how good they are.

Gouveia gave top props to the Special Teams and Scott Harding in particular. He pointed out the two punts downed inside the 5 yard line where “we should score points” whether by a defensive score, or the ball going back to our offense to effect a score. Well, there was a safety on one, and a near intercepted pass on the other. Harding also had another punt that was fumbled and recovered by Hawaii, resulting in a field goal.

Coach also mentioned he has never been around a Special Teams coach like Chris Demarest who’s demanded standard of play is higher than anyone else.

Asked whether Joey Iosefa’s workload was too much in his re-debut game, Gouveia did not think so. He said Joey is looked up to for his leadership; he is respected; and the players feel Joey will get the first down…Joey will make something happen. It is beneficial to have him on the field.

Against San Jose State, Iosefa is expected to pull a heavier load. The Spartans have a good defensive unit so power running will be relied upon to give the defense the rest they need between series to be effective.

Gouveia’s recruiting territory is the West so he monitors Waianae, Nanakuli, Campbell, Kapolei, etc. He also covers spots on the Windward side. When looking for players, the physical stats can get in the way so Gouveia asks himself, “Is he a football player?” If yes, “That is who I want!!!”


Written by: Gareth Sakakida

Coach’s Luncheon Report: 11/03/14

Luke Matthews“Mathematically, we are still alive” averred a Rainbow Warrior stalwart from the crowd at the Nā Koa luncheon today.

Receivers Assistant Coach Luke Matthews vowed that “the guys are ready to go, they’re good that way, focusing on job preparation.” And as badly as the Utah State game went, Matthews’ assessment of the field happenings did quell rising blood pressures a bit.

A solid offensive line’s uncharacteristic eight procedure penalties were extremely disquieting for the casual observer. However, Matthews pointed out that USU is known for their defensive line to shift and abruptly call out “move” when doing so to induce offensive linemen to jump. Head Coach Norm Chow knew this and spoke to the referees before the game about it, to no avail. Not that the deception is legal – the defense cannot say anything to disconcert the snap count – BUT the referees have to hear it.

So fear not, our O-line is not losing its discipline; it merely has to discern the signal caller or watch the snap. Oh, and the snap? Well, Kody Afusia tends to cock the ball before snapping it so sometimes it can look like the start of a snap, but it doesn’t go… thus a penalty.

And why all of a sudden did Steven Lakalaka engage in illegal chop blocks? According to Matthews, he doesn’t…well he did, but not intentionally. It was a case of the running back trying to pick up a blitz that the lineman seemingly did not see. So when the lineman “recovered” and stepped over for a late block, Lakalaka was already in his dive to cut the blitzer. Two blockers; one engaging, the other coming in to cut…flag! And yes, Lakalaka did show frustration with a late hit after an interception and a second chop block.

Then again, you call that frustration? That was nothing compared to the discussion Coach Chow and Special Teams Coach Chris Demarest had after the roughing the kicker penalty to negate Scott Harding’s TD punt return and return USU’s offense to the field to nail the coffin shut. By the way, there is a lot of passion and energy on the sidelines so expect blow ups…but they don’t last; it’s just part of the game.

If you are seething at trying to figure out why the block technique was so bad or why call for a block at all . . . STOP! Just as the O-line didn’t all of a sudden lose their focus, Coach Demo didn’t lose his mind all of a sudden either! The play was set up where Diocemy Sainte Juste was to line up outside on the right and Gaetano DeMattei was to line up INSIDE ON THE LEFT. Unfortunately, De Mattei did not interpret the signal correctly so added an outside player on the right where there was no good angle to take on the kicker. Add to that the fact that one must run through the play to maintain control and balance, not dive because you cannot control where you land or what you hit, and well . . .

Interestingly, this punt play was actually designed for a return rather than a block, which is why Harding had the opportunity to go up the middle. On most punts Harding does not have a designed return so he must get whatever he can as best he can.

The defensive secondary had their problems communicating, too. It also did not help that USU had some very fast receivers!

And what about our speed? Why didn’t we use Keelan Ewaliko more, or use other receivers when we had so many dropped passes in the past two games? Matthews admitted the receivers must “see the ball into the tuck,” because when their eyes go up field, we have problems. Catching passes with the hands is also preferable. Marcus Kemp is still growing as a receiver and needs to trust his hands.

Matthews reported that Kemp and Pedroza are the numbers 5 and 6 receivers in the Mountain West so continuously using them gives the team the best chance of success. Besides, both are good blockers, which is another reason why they’re playing.

Matthews is very excited about the future of the receiving corps. Besides Kemp, Pedroza, Barker and Ewaliko, add back injured players Vasquez Haynes and Devan Stubblefield. There’s also freshman Darrian Josey who is a bona fide speedster and Don ‘Yeh Patterson who is fundamentally sound.

Exciting times are ahead. Why not start it at Colorado State on Saturday?

Written by Gareth Sakakida

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