Jones: Brennan learning offense
The coach says the UH QB isn't staying in the pocket long enough to check all his receivers
Hawaii quarterback Colt Brennan had several great escapes Saturday night, many of them resulting in big plays in UH's 44-41 shootout loss to Boise State.
And Hawaii fans loved Brennan's style. It turns out the junior college transfer is a running, gunning, rambling, scrambling man.
It would be easy to get caught up in all the excitement.
He doesn't know the offense yet? Fine. Stop teaching him now. Don't even let him come to practice.
Of course, his coach, June Jones, would prefer a little more polish. Jones said yesterday that he does indeed enjoy Brennan's scrambling -- to a point.
But Jones would rather see Brennan play with a firmer grip on Hawaii's run-and-shoot offense.
"When he gets flushed out of the pocket, sometimes he flushes out of the pocket or runs without (checking all his receivers)," Jones said. "He goes one, two and at one, two he's supposed to go to three and three's wide open, but he doesn't get three, he runs instead."
And some of the results -- at least against BSU -- have been spectacular. He threw for 426 yards and four touchdowns. But in the long view, Jones thinks Brennan will be more effective if he adapts a little more patience.
"He does have the ability to avoid," Jones said. "But he doesn't understand that it's not third and 8 every time. It's first and 10. We'll take five, get down. Run out of bounds. And that's part of doing it, too ... in our stuff, it breaks (the defenders') hearts when he scrambles and scrambles and scrambles and throws it away, that's as demoralizing to the defense as getting 2 or 3 yards. And he's just got to understand that's just part of what we do, and he's going to be hard to defend."
Despite Brennan's mobility, Jones said the tape told him Hawaii had played an outstanding game across the offensive line.
"And so he felt pressure that really wasn't pressure," Jones said. "He needed to step up instead of running around. His reaction is when somebody pressures him, he says, 'Oh, I can get around that guy,' rather than step up and stay in the pocket and go through your reads. And that's part of it too."
The scrambles were an effective stopgap measure.
"Organized chaos," Jones called it.
Hawaii has rules for that type of situation. It's even a frequent after-practice drill.
"When he scrambles he makes a lot of things happen, but there is rhyme and reason to where guys run to and does find them when he gets out there," Jones said.
Still, Jones is hoping a stopgap measure is all it will be.
"Colt is getting better but he's still missing some things, missing some stuff," Jones said. "You know, he's going to get better and better."
Less than special: The talk of special teams in the wake of Saturday's loss goes on. How many things have to go wrong in order to have a kick blocked?
"The first ones that we made? Guess what, they had the same pressure and we made them because the kick was high," Jones said. "So a combination of either blocking better or kicking it higher (would help). What happened was we had leakage and then we kicked it low. So the combination of the two. If one of them does their job, we probably make them both and get them through."
That's the bright spot.
"That's why I say it was fixable," Jones said.
Assistant Mouse Davis said the blocked kicks weren't the worst special-teams offenses.
"Probably the biggest breakdown was the punter getting the first down," Davis said. "We lost containment."
"It comes down to four or five plays, like I've said," Jones said. "And this week the four or five were in the kicking game."
In praise of defense: Jones said Hawaii outhit and outplayed Boise State, and, after reviewing film, said Saturday's game was the best UH had played on defense in a long time.
"By far," he said. "Really, the last four games it has been, the most physical, hit the most. We've cleaned up the busts the last few weeks, and made plays, made physical plays, not mental breakdowns."
One player in particular caught his coach's eye.
"Lono (Manners) playing safety right now is about as good as I've ever seen," Jones said. "He's special."
Manners forced two fumbles, broke up three passes, had an interception and made seven tackles against Boise State.
Bouncing back: This week Hawaii's challenge is not only to rebound from a devastating loss, but to do so on the epic 4,034-mile road trip to Ruston, La.
Jones said Hawaii will have to respond with another Herculean effort in a matchup of 1-3 teams at Louisiana Tech.
"I think that the thing is that we've got to be mentally ready to play the game," Jones said. "This is as important a game as Boise State and we've got to get ourselves ready to play that way. It's on the road and that's what you've got to do on the road. You have to play like that, like we played this last week."
Injury update: "(Corner) Ryan Keomaka dislocated his shoulder, I don't know if he'll be available," Jones said. "(Defensive end) Mel Purcell had neck stingers, we're iffy there. We're hoping (nose tackle) Renolds Fruean is back. (Linebacker) T.J. Moe is all beat up, but didn't practice last week and played phenomenal again this week, but was running out of gas again at the end of the game. Lono is beat up, he'll play."