Coach’s Luncheon Report: Mon 9/14/15

Mason head shotDefensive Coordinator Tom Mason said after the Ohio State game our players feel they can play with anyone. They are confident and won’t be intimidated by anyone. Mason was the guest speaker at the Nā Koa Coaches Lunch on September 14th at the Willows Restaurant.

Mason said our defensive line played well at times mentioning the play of Kennedy Tulimasealii, Kaau Gifford, Mefy Koloamatangi, Kory Rasmussen, Kiko Faalologo and Luke Shawley.

Nequan Phillips “showed up” and Nick Nelson “at times” played well. Mason likes where we are with our secondary. The two dropped interceptions could have made a big difference in the game.

Benny Fonua did a great job filling in for Julian Gener who was scratched from the lineup due to a medical issue. The linebacker group is deep and talented and a lot of guys contributed.

The offense never got into sync. Ohio State had something to do with it because they are really good. The drops hurt.

Mason said before going to SMU in 2007 he ran a 4-3 defense. With the proliferation of the spread offenses that SMU faces, Mason switched to a 3-4. He went to learn the defense from legendary defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau who was then with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

His defense is built on 5 or 6 principles. Mason briefly explained some of the principles for the lunch attendees. The players have bought into the system and are learning to execute it. They are not there yet but are getting there.

Mason showed video highlights of defensive plays and explained how they tried to confuse Ohio State. We showed them different looks and used a variety of stunts and blitzes and were able to get to the quarterback.

It doesn’t matter who we are playing. Our focus always has to be on ourselves and executing and playing better.

Mason’s recruiting areas will include the Dallas metro area, Northern California, Washington and Nevada. He reiterated that there a lot of good players locally and we need to keep them at home.


Written by Mike Lum.

Coach’s Luncheon Report: Mon 9/07/15

chris naeoleAssistant head coach/offensive line coach Chris Naeole was the guest speaker at the Coaches Lunch held at the Willows on September 7th.   After the former Colorado Buffalo kidded that his Colorado friends weren’t returning his calls after the big win over Colorado, Naeole showed video of the game and answered questions.

Naeole showed a series of plays that almost lead to disaster twice only to result in a big change in field position. Missed blocking assignments almost led to a safety or worse but Dejon Allen made a good play picking up a fumble and getting it back into the playing field. On the next play a miscommunication between quarterback Max Wittek and the running back almost lead to another safety. Wittek made a tremendous effort to get out of the end zone. The punt that followed resulted in a major change in field position when we recovered a fumble.

Overall the offensive line did okay but needs to get better. There were missed assignments, pass protection needs to be improved and there wasn’t enough intensity on short yardage situations.

Two “rookies” started on the offensive line against Colorado. Tui Eli, a redshirt freshman playing in his first college game started at center did “pretty good.” Junior RJ Hollis also made his first start and also did “pretty good.”

Nine O-linemen suited up including true freshman Eperone Moananu. Moananu played on special teams and may be in line for some time on the O-line.

Rigo Sanchez did an excellent job with directional punting.

During the fourth quarter they were trying to run some clock with running plays but were passing too. Unfortunately a couple of passes were incomplete stopping the clock and ending drives.

Responding to a question about Wittek’s mobility, Naeole said Wittek is actually quite athletic. But he is a pocket passer first and foremost.

Big running back Melvin Davis, who reported late to summer camp is rounding into shape and may be ready for action soon.

Asked about recruiting in Samoa and Australia, Naeole confirmed he has traveled to both areas looking for players.

Ohio State is loaded and well coached. Their defense is led by defensive end Joey Bosa, possibly the best defense linemen in the nation. We need to find a way to slow Bosa down.


By: Michael Lum

Coach’s Luncheon Report: Mon 8/31/15

Norm Chow“We have a good team, there’s no point in trying to hide it” averred fourth year head coach Norm Chow to the Nā Koa gathering at the first Coach’s Luncheon on Monday.

He said, “we have competition at every position….we’re not where we want to be yet, but we have a good team.” Chow added that the team has great senior leadership and that it’s the best team since he has been here; but like he said, they still must prove it on the field. Another key is to limit injuries.

Chow reported that Colorado has a three year starter at quarterback, a stellar receiver, and a new defensive coordinator making them feel they are on the rise.

Chow’s formula for success regardless of who the opponent is includes:

Play Great Defense…“I know what gives offenses trouble and Defensive Coordinator Tom Mason does just that;”

  •  Take care of the ball…“We have to be as error free as we can;”
  •  Win the turnover margin…“Teams with a positive turnover margin win 89% of the time;” and
  •  Win the fourth quarter…“The ability to adjust to what is happening will determine the game.”

Chow went over the probable starters with a few surprises like Asotui Eli starting at center who is a redshirt Freshman from Kona.

Running Back will be run by committee. Diocemy St. Juste is nursing a hamstring but Steven Lakalaka has recovered from a bad hamstring last season.

Kick return will be handled by Paul Harris and the punt returner will be Quinton Pedroza.

Player conditioning is terrific and their goal is to give every effort on every play. Chow highlighted the players’ diversity but despite that, they’re all coming together for one goal.

Coordinators Mason and Don Bailey will be upstairs to call plays during the game with some grad assistants and the rest of the coaches will be on the field.

Chow heaps heavy praise on both coordinators and pointed out how difficult it is to keep coordinators here when some other programs pay four times the salary.


Written by: Gareth Sakakida


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