Thursday, March 8, 2001
Receivers focusToo many dropped passes during yesterday's practice left the University of Hawaii wideouts performing a little extra duty.
on run, shoot and
Hawaii's receivers are working
to avoid the dreaded
WARRIOR FOOTBALL NOTEBOOK
By Paul Arnett
Under the watchful eye of assistant coach Ron Lee, the Warriors ran numerous sprints and bear crawls for 50 yards as a form of penance. Not that Lee wanted to dwell on it because he believes progress among the 16 wide receivers is being made this spring.
But if too many footballs are hitting the turf during the spring workouts, then the receivers will be on all fours after the regular two-hour session is done.
"We've got a ways to go," Lee said yesterday morning. "We're still dropping the football and still trying to feel our way through our routes. One reason is we have 16 or 17 receivers and everybody's getting reps.
"Some of the guys aren't getting as many as they should. A lot of the new guys are trying to read coverages, get to where they're supposed to and then make the catch. And it just takes time.
"Most of the veterans are on schedule, but we have so many guys and they're all competing. It's just getting on the same page. But they'll get there."
At this point, the starting foursome is all but set. Junior Ashley Lelie has a firm grip at right wideout, while seniors Craig Stutzmann and Channon Harris are holding the top spots at slotback.
Justin Colbert entered spring as the main man at left wideout, but the junior is feeling a little heat from Neal Gossett and freshman Mark Tate.
Tate was expected to compete for a starting spot last year, but he reported to fall camp a little overweight and out of shape. He has since slimmed down and has made some big plays this spring.
Stanford University transfer Tafiti Uso is also expected to make some noise at the left wideout spot. But a shoulder sprain has limited his playing time through five spring practices.
"We'd like somebody on the left side to be as big a threat as Ashley is on the right," Lee said. "That way, defenses can't cheat to try to stop your main threat.
"One of our problems so far in the spring is we're missing the chief (UH head coach June Jones). We need his guidance and leadership because he understands the run-and-shoot like nobody else."
Stutzmann is the one receiver who comprehends this complicated offense as well as any. He has been involved with it for three years in high school and two seasons in college.
If a young wideout or slotback needs a little insight, Stutzmann is the man they go to see. He is like a coach in the huddle who is able to settle down a young gun like Tim Chang should the quarterback call plays that don't exist.
"The thing is, in this offense, it's the same routes and the same reads," Stutzmann said. "I even have the same coach in high school in Coach Ron that I have now at Hawaii.
"That's where the St. Louis connection comes in. I probably wouldn't be playing as much as I am now if not for the guidance I got from Coach Ron and Coach Cal (Lee). They teach you from the very beginning."
Playing for Radford High School, Lelie wasn't as fortunate as Stutzmann, slotback Gerald Welch and backup receiver Kanale George. Unlike some of his teammates, Lelie is still learning the system.
"I'm still not as comfortable as I need to be," said Lelie, who led the Warriors in receptions last year with 74 for 1,110 yards and a school-record 11 touchdowns. "It's a lot to learn, but it's still a little easier this spring than it was before because I have played in the offense for two years.
"I enjoy the spring because you don't have the pressure of getting ready for the next game. You have time to come out here to work hard, but still have fun. We're getting better every year. It just takes time for everybody to get on the same page in this style of offense."
Stutzmann believes once that takes place, look out. Because the offense can be even more explosive once all 11 men are comfortable in it.
"When you see Ashley grow up in the next year or two, and Justin and even Channon, you're going to see a lot of those dropped footballs stop happening," Stutzmann said. "Right now, they're still thinking about where they need to go and what's the best way to get there, before they start thinking about catching the football.
"People don't understand that you have to be able to read so many different things. And even Timmy. Once everybody gets used to the speed of the reads, this offense is going to be even more explosive than it already is."
This Saturday's first spring scrimmage for the University of Hawaii won't resemble any football game played this fall.
TODAY'S WARRIORS NOTEBOOK
Associate head coach George Lumpkin said after this morning's workout that the team will run as many as 30 plays, but it will be more situations than anything else. The coaches met this afternoon to hammer out the details.
"We're going to practice for about 45 minutes, then we're going to scrimmage," Lumpkin said. "Early on, we're going to go into the end zone and coming out of the end zone, some goal-line. Then we'll go into a regular scrimmage.
"It will be a mix of the starters and guys fighting for those jobs. In the spring, everybody has to kind of show what they can do. And we switched a lot of defensive positions, so we need to see how they handle themselves. What we're looking for more than anything else is consistency."
Defensive coordinator Kevin Lempa also wants to take a hard look at the younger guys, get them on film and see how they're developing through the course of spring and fall camp. Once the season begins, the coaches don't get the opportunity to look at the younger players as much.
"We'll probably do first team against second team for part of the scrimmage," Lempa said. "And then we'll try to set up situations with first team against first team.
"We'll do some things like coming out of the green zone, trying to get a first down. If they don't get it, then they punt. We'll also do red zone and try to score. If we don't, then we'll kick a field goal.
"We'll try to look at some of the other players who we don't know as much about. A lot of the scrimmage will be for the second, third and fourth-team guys."
Most of the defensive playbook is in place. Now, it's a matter of seeing how the pieces fit together.
"We want to have two teams on defense with as equal ability as we can get," Lempa said. "Each week, we're going to review and try to get better."
Injury reportBackup wideout Kanale George dislocated his shoulder during this morning's practice and is out for the spring.
The St. Louis School product broke his collar bone last spring, but according to a UH trainer, this morning's injury is unrelated. He will be sidelined for eight to 12 weeks, depending upon the severity of the dislocation.
Defensive tackle Mike Iosua will probably not play in Saturday's scrimmage. He sprained his ankle yesterday and was sidelined today.
"I wasn't able to come back like I thought I would," Iosua said.
He missed most of last year with a bad left ankle and shoulder injury. The trainers say he is slow to heal, but should be back near full speed as early as next week.
"Last year, Mike pretty much played with one arm and one leg," UH defensive line coach Vantz Singletary said. "We finally had to tell him to sit down.
"He was our best guy up front last year. When the coaches scouted us, they would always say that No. 70 was the man they had to stop. Hopefully, he'll be back next week because we need him in there. He's a leader."
Solid combineFormer UH offensive tackle Kynan Forney took part in last month's NFL combine in Indianapolis.
Warriors offensive line coach Mike Cavanaugh said Forney did well and is projected to go anywhere from the second to the fourth round in next month's NFL draft. Quite a story, considering Forney played basically one year at the Division I level.
"They bring in the top 325 guys, so it's an honor to be there," Cavanaugh said. "He played tremendously for us and got the attention of all the scouts.
"He was focused. He saw what (Adrian) Klemm and (Kaulana) Noa accomplished last year when they were drafted, and said, "Hey, I can do the same thing.' He really bought into what we were trying to do here."
Forney benched 225 pounds 23 times, ran a 5.2 40 and did a broad jump of eight feet. Not bad for a 6-foot-2, 312-pounder.
"If you want to be a pro football player it comes down to production," Cavanaugh said.
Paul Arnett, Star-Bulletin
Ka Leo O Hawaii