Our Warrior defensive line has many players who are seeing significant playing time for the first time. That may be one reason for their coach, Lance Samuseva, lamenting at today’s Coach’s Lunch the misreads and misassignments in the San Diego State (SDSU) game this past Saturday.
To be sure, Samuseva admitted to the defense starting slow against SDSU and allowing Donnel Pumphrey to zip 67 yards on four carries and a TD in the first series. Maybe we were slow, but did you see that guy cut and veer in live action? He was something to see. Then again, while Samuseva pointed out what the defense was called to do, and what they really did, and how that opened holes . . . well, Pumphrey and his cohorts could have been slowed much more.
It was not that SDSU’s schemes were tricky to read or that they did things differently (like Boise State). In fact, Samuseva could not fathom why things have been happening as they have because during the practice week, things go well but then Saturday comes and things get difficult. But, Samuseva said these things are fixable.
Once the defense settled down in the game they did well. The team has suffered a lot (injuries and weariness from travel), but they are handling it and grinding it out. Hopefully, we can turn it around this week….but it’s another back to back travel.
Back to his young players, Samuseva pointed out that Luke Shawley is the only senior on the D line and he is only in his third year of playing football. Although undersized, Shawley’s motor and quickness counterbalances that. Kory Rasmussen, a transfer from Colorado, bounced back and forth from O to D line and is playing his first season on Defense. Penitito Faalaloga also bounced back and forth before finally establishing himself on the D line.
Kennedy Tulimasealii is called “a work in progress” with great motor and quickness. Samuseva said Kennedy’s first step is the quickest he has seen in a long time but he could still use to gain another ten pounds without losing any quickness. Also seeking to put on more weight are Meffy Koloamatangi and David Manoa. Late signee, Sam Akoteu, was injured in Fall camp and has not played.
Samuseva did show some film footage with bright spots, many of which involved the special teams who have special titles such as “Hit Squad” for the kickoff team; “Blade” for kickoff return; “A Team” for the punt team; and “SWAT” for the punt return team.
Looking to next week’s opponent, New Mexico runs a read option out of the pistol and Samuseva said they use a lot of motion to confuse and misdirect.
Submitted by: Gareth Sakakida
Luke Matthews, Warriors Receivers Coach, posed the question whether the Warriors’ woes were due to execution or scheme to start off today’s lunch presentation. After playing five games one would guess the problem must be rooted in the schemes and while there may be some of that, Matthews said the Warriors are playing 10-man football…..that’s when one player is not on the same page or misses an assignment and the whole play blows up. Would one player have that much of an impact when there are 10 others to cover for him? Apparently so….as we saw in today’s film clips.
Matthews showed several offensive plays that did not gain much, if any at all. The scheme was good but BSU’s corners were very aggressive so when we ran a hitch and go, too quick a release resulted in an overthrow. And BSU likes to pressure up the middle so we planned outside zone runs, but a missed block, and well, you know what resulted.
Coach Matthews pointed out what the play was designed to do and how a single error negatively impacted the play causing even more anguish when you realize what could have been. Yes, this really is a team sport…an 11-man team sport.
Of course, it did not help that we played the #7 (BSU), #11 (Wisconsin), and #14 (OSU) ranked defenses in the country! And 46 penalties in five games resulting in the loss of a lot of yards that we cannot afford to give up!
Matthews believes he can improve as a coach by being more demanding, especially of the backups; they don’t get as many reps, but must still catch the ball. Little things are being drilled into all the players constantly like not diving for balls because that slows your feet…need to catch it on the run! And receive the ball with your hands, not your chest.
When asked about the dropped balls, Matthews feels the players need more confidence catching the ball in traffic and catching contested balls more consistently. In the passing game, the whole team has to execute as a unit; it’s not just the receiver and quarterback who have to be on the same page.
In case you’re wondering, the receivers perform well in practice but we know it’s game day that matters.
On the passing schemes, we use different formations but route combinations are similar throughout the country. On blitzes, the receivers do not break off their routes; they are running drag and underneath routes and the QB must find them. Tight ends are aligned wide to draw linebackers away from the middle giving us the chance to run the ball easier.
Matthews sees recruiting two to three receivers for next season as Quinton Pedroza and Ryan Pasoquin complete their eligibility so will need to be replaced.
San Diego State is the next opponent and Matthews expects them to be very disciplined. The Aztecs run a 3-3-5 with defensive backs filling linebacker spots and will throw you off with an unconventional look then pop into place at the snap.
To sum it up, Coach Matthews said, “There are still eight games to make a season of this.” He thanked the fans at today’s lunch for showing up and continuing to support the team.
Written by: Gareth Sakakida
Bailey pointed out that against UC Davis, we started seeing the effects of our offense’s speed and tempo wearing down the defense. With this system there is usually an avalanche at some point in the game where you score points. Players have to be in good shape to do this because we limit the number of players used in order to move fast.
Running back Paul Harris’ speed was evident with his 95 yard TD scamper around right end but Bailey said Harris runs well between the tackles, too. And playing with three foot wide splits between the offensive linemen also makes the defense move, further wearing them down.
On the subject of speed, Keelan Ewaliko is still learning the nuances of an outside receiver. Bailey said he is not yet sure whether that is the best position for Ewaliko… might even try him at running back.
Bailey explained that execution is most important…it is not all about speed. He wants to create the illusion of needing to go fast so the defense lines up faster and he can see what they are doing and make his call in response to that.
There are times when he wants to run plays faster or slower. Against Colorado, with a lead, Bailey wanted to slow it down. “We don’t want to play fast at any cost…we want to play smart and win” he said. Normally, Bailey can have a call going by the time the 40 second clock hits 38!
“If I want to slow it down, I call the plays slower. If we want to step it up, we have key words in a play call to snap the ball quicker” said Bailey. It is all to wear down the defense. It is a process and the players are still improving. And, as Bailey cautioned, he has to make sure the guys are ready before he puts them in. Wide Receiver Devon Stubblefield was not ready earlier so made his debut against UC Davis. Fullback Melvin Davis had to lose a few pounds before making his appearance.
Of course injuries played a role in determining timing and duration. We were beat up after Ohio State so some guys did not practice much and some remain injured.
Asked about quarterback audibles, Bailey confessed that Max Wittek has the option to do that but has not used it so far. Plays are sight adjusted so there hasn’t been a need for an audible.
On Wisconsin, Bailey assessed their defense as more aggressive than Ohio State’s since the Buckeyes can afford to just line up in a basic set with superior talent. On offense, he feels the Badgers are searching for an identity.
Hawaii’s own offense is still scratching the surface and is a little vanilla while awaiting conference play. The players are starting to appreciate preparing each week for a different defense.
Written by Gareth Sakakida