“We couldn’t ask for a better start (to the season)….we enjoyed it for the first 48 minutes” summed UH Defensive Coordinator and Safeties coach, Corey Batoon, of the Colorado State game this past Saturday at today’s Na Koa Coach’s Lunch at Willows.

“….The final 12 minutes was something else.” Actually it started with 3:35 left in the third quarter until 4:42 left in the fourth when CSU scored 27 points needing only 17 plays in an amazing 4:45 of playing time to do it. That closed the score to 40-34 after Hawaii was leading 37-7.

So what happened to the Defense . . . and Offense? Since Coach Batoon is the DC he could only speak for the defense and shared that when you are up by 30 as a 17 point underdog, on the road, on national TV, you get distracted. That disrupts the process and you find players starting to play off of their man, looking for the ball, doing things differently from practice, from the process. But you never know how players will react in situations. They have to learn (to not get distracted by being up 30, etc.) in new situations said Coach Batoon. Sort of like the offense leaving their process and running the ball off tackle numerous times in an effort to burn time off the clock.

Actually the players were already handling things well while Hurricane Lane inched closer to the Hawaiian chain. Coach Batoon lived through that very thing himself last year when Hurricane Irma forced his Florida Atlantic University football team to remain in Wisconsin after their contest due to the damage in Florida.

Back to Hawaii’s team, the players also handled themselves well during travel which was remarkable as half of the travel squad reportedly has never traveled before. There were basic questions like where do we eat, where do we go?

The bottom line was the defense left it all out on the field. By the end of the game Coach Batoon pointed out rush end Kaimana Padello was in full body cramps due to the altitude and dehydration. Padello had taken IVs during the half and was out for a while during the second half until the final drive.

Altitude is another thing Batoon knew a lot about as an assistant head coach at Northern Arizona which is 7,000 feet above sea level. CSU’s 5,000 feet still had an impact requiring the free rotation of players…“it was all able bodies” said Batoon. Players were hyped up and that can drain you fast. So it was a good thing player rotation was freely accomplished thanks to CSU’s constant switching out of player groups. As the offense substituted, it gave the defense a chance to counter so Batoon had the big boys “jog” onto and off the field to bring the tempo down to Hawaii’s comfort level.

The defense also had to adjust to defending a two back offense after seeing four wides all Spring and Summer. The line was physical at the point of attack and knowing that the CSU offensive line was young, used line shifts to complicate the Ram communications.

The defense also played with discipline as Batoon showed video of corner backs staying with late releasing tight ends and running backs, linebackers staying home executing their assignments – sort of a practice for the discipline that will be needed against Navy’s triple option this weekend.

On his philosophy for stopping the triple option, Batoon said “we will see….maybe not schedule them?” It brought chuckles from the crowd. There is no one way to stop the option but coaches put a plan in the Spring and practiced it through the Spring and Summer. Offensively, the Academies do a good job of controlling the ball so you can’t fall behind them.

Written by Gareth Sakakida