Star-Bulletin Sports

Wednesday, November 17, 1999

R A I N B O W _ F O O T B A L L

UH Rainbow Football

’Bows examining
their options

Hawaii, 0-2 against run-oriented
teams, hopes to stop Navy's
option offense


By Paul Arnett


They don't run the option in the National Football League.

Just ask Hawaii head coach June Jones and defensive coordinator Greg McMackin. The only option they have in the NFL is whether to eat out or in. The rest is just good, clean football where knees are considered sacred and the quarterback only runs for his life.

Jones believes high-low blocking -- where one offensive lineman engages high in his blocking technique while another dives for the defensive lineman's knees -- should be punishable by death.

He's also against the crack-back block. Fresno State threw one at Dee Miller, causing the UH free safety to buckle backwards at the knees. A flag was thrown, but Jones motioned to the official that the Bulldog offender should be shown the exit.


Bullet When: 6:05 p.m. Saturday
Bullet Where: Aloha Stadium
Bullet TV: 9 p.m. on KFVE
Bullet Radio: Live on KCCN-AM (1420)
Bullet RealAudio: Click here
Bullet Records: Hawaii is 7-3. Navy is 4-6.
Bullet Spread: Navy by 3

Option teams such as the one at the Naval Academy often use blocking techniques similar to these illegal ones. They aren't exactly breaking the rules, but it's the kind of chop blocking that makes knees and ankles points of attack, especially downfield.

Jones doesn't like it, said as much to TCU head coach Dennis Franchione after the Horned Frogs chopped down the Rainbows. Franchione's response to media back in Fort Worth, Texas, when queried of Jones' complaints? "That's a typical NFL mentality.''

When Hawaii's on defense

McMackin has his own brand of NFL mentality to deal with Saturday night. While he was away in the professional league, some option teams have developed a relatively new mode of attack.

"The last time we played the option against Rice, I thought we played it pretty well,'' McMackin said after yesterday's practice. "We made them punt eight times, which was really good.

"But we need to play the midline option (where the quarterback fakes to the fullback, then follows him through the hole) better. Quite honestly they've put that in the four years I was out of college football.

"I feel we can do a better job of preparing for that in this week's game with Navy because they run a very similar option to what they run at Rice. The last time I defended the option, that wasn't in there and I don't think Navy runs it that much, but we're going to be prepared for it.''

UH fans should recognize the spread option. It's the same one former UH offensive coordinator Paul Johnson ran under former head coach Bob Wagner. Johnson disciple Kenny Niumatalolo followed Johnson to Navy after he was named the Midshipmen's offensive coordinator in 1994.

Johnson went on to be head coach at Georgia Southern and Niumatalolo assumed Johnson's duties as offensive coordinator. He lost that title last year, leaving the program to serve an offensive assistant under John Robinson at Nevada-Las Vegas.

The spread option remains, however, and is an offense that has caused Hawaii some problems this season.

Not only did the Rainbows lose to two teams that use run-oriented attacks, but they looked lost at critical times.

First, Rice came to Aloha Stadium and whipped Hawaii, 38-19, limiting the Rainbows to only 7 minutes on offense in the second half.

The Owls rushed the ball 66 times for 354 yards and four touchdowns to hand Hawaii one of only two league losses for the season.

The disturbing trend, however, is the Rainbows' other Western Athletic Conference defeat was to Texas Christian, also a running team, 34-14.

Along comes Navy that runs an option attack similar to Rice's. Hawaii's zone blitz defense in its purest form is not a good match with the option. That means the Rainbows will need to adjust, something McMackin is prepared to do. Injuries, however, may limit the practice time of some key personnel.

"I think seeing it twice already will help, although TCU's option is much different from Rice and Navy's,'' McMackin said. "What we have to do is play responsible football. One thing we have going for us is our team speed. Speed, if schemed properly, helps negate the option.''

McMackin went as far in yesterday's practice to have the scout team players move in stop-action so he could break down the responsibilities in its slowest form.

Navy quarterback Brian Madden stepped in for the injured Brian Broadwater and has done the job. He is making his fourth consecutive start. The key will be how well the Rainbows defend leading rusher Raheem Lambert at fullback. He has 631 yards and five touchdowns for the season.

When Hawaii is on offense

One thing the offense can do for the defense this time around is make better use of its opportunities. As tough as the option was to stop for the UH defense, it was made nearly impossible by three successive three-and-outs Hawaii produced on offense during a critical span in the second half.

"What we've got to do is make the most of our opportunities early on,'' UH quarterback Dan Robinson said. "We had our chances on offense in the first half against Rice, but we didn't execute properly. If we can get out on top early, then we can take Navy out of their game.''

Jones said the Midshipmen use variations of three- and four-man fronts. Sometimes, they'll be in a 3-2 look in the box. Others, they will use the more common 4-2 with five guys in the secondary.

"We've already seen several schemes like this this season,'' Jones said. "They mix up all their zones in the secondary and play every one of them. They do a good job of mixing their fronts and sending their doggers and blitzers.''

Safeties Chris Lepore and James Doffermyre are the leading tacklers for the Midshipmen. Lepore has 120 tackles, including two sacks. Doffermyre has 90 tackles and two sacks.
Ka Leo O Hawaii

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