Jones on staff, health, needs
SECOND OF TWO PARTS
With players reporting Aug. 3 for fall camp, Hawaii football coach June Jones sat down Saturday with Star-Bulletin sportswriter Dave Reardon and Warriors radio broadcast partners Bobby Curran and Robert Kekaula to answer questions about the upcoming season.
Q: Did you get frustrated last year that the defense didn't come around?
A: You get frustrated because you want to win, but I think we kind of knew why it wasn't happening. We had to put our finger in the dike all the time. We had to adjust with new coaching, and the players probably weren't as talented as they needed to be in terms of the back-end area. But we held together and played hard.
You're expecting to be much better on defense?
A: Yes, we need to. And we need to take a giant step in special teams.
Q: Is the Brad Kalilimoku experiment (at strong safety) pretty solid? Is he going to start there?
A: Yes, we like him there.
Q: How huge is it to have Leonard (free safety Peters) back?
A: Large. He's worked so hard, he gives us so much leadership. Along those lines, the guys I'm really proud of are (inside linebackers) Adam Leonard and Solomon Elimimian. Last year Solomon played like an NFL vet (as a true freshman). He made all the calls and more than 80 tackles. On film out of high school, Adam was about as good as I've looked at. But the knee injury ... usually that takes one football season, the next season you're back to normal. I would anticipate good competition in there, Solomon, Adam and Blaze Soares.
Q: How about the outside guys?
A: C.J. Allen-Jones has done some unbelievable stuff, and on the other side I think we'll have a guy I can't say anything about yet. (Note: NCAA rules prohibit Jones from naming the player, who is believed to be Amani Purcell, an incoming transfer.)
Q: How about Brashton (Satele)?
A: Brashton I think will probably start this year, at outside 'backer. He looks unbelievable right now. He's going to compete outside, with C.J. and Tyson Kafentzis.
Q: Who will coach the special teams?
A: Mouse (Davis) will coordinate the special teams (in addition to coaching the running backs in camp). Dennis (McKnight) will coach the offensive line (with Wes Suan) and two parts of the special teams.
Q: Mouse was talking about possibly retiring. You're probably happy he's sticking around.
A: Yes. He'll help with some things on the other side of the ball too.
Q: You seem to be in pretty good health at age 53. But when you see what happened with Randy Walker (the Northwestern coach who died of a heart attack this summer at age 52) do you worry about what the stresses of this job can do to your health?
A: My feeling about that is something I learned in February (2001, when Jones was in a near-fatal car accident). When it's your time, it's your time. You've got no control over it. I was supposed to be dead.
Q: There's a lot of talk these days about how stressful coaching is. How do you deal with it?
A: I think differently on that. One of the reasons coaches have so much stress is they're always worried about their job. I changed jobs so many times, trying to get to where I want to be, which is here. I have a lot of confidence in what we do. And I know that we can win.
Q: How important is loyalty on a coaching staff?
A: It's No. 1. I remember when we came here in 1999, someone said we hired the worst staff in college football. They knew nothing about Dan (quarterbacks coach Morrison) and Ron (receivers coach Lee), who are great coaches and unbelievably great people. Everybody on the staff, they're just top guys.
Q: Are long hours inherent to coaching?
A: I did all that for 15 years. I stayed 18 hours. It doesn't matter to me. Once the players leave the building, my job is done. I study, I do what I'm supposed to do. I know what the strategy is for that game. I can do that in 5 hours a night. Sometimes, like if we're playing Fresno, less. We know what they're going to do, and they don't change. Sometimes you make it harder than it is. What I tell all my guys is, if it takes 19 hours to get it done, then you need to stay 19 hours. Jerry (defensive coordinator Glanville) does that. He's comfortable with that. That's fine, I stay there with them.
Some guys work long hours because they're devising new ways to go against certain looks. They have to make sure everyone's on the same page with something new. But from the time we walk in next week, we ain't changing anything. It's all in, the first seven days. Now it's just a matter of doing the same thing over and over and over and over again so you get a chance to be good.
Our game-planning is just looking at what the defensive tendencies are -- I have to guess some of it, because sometimes you can't tell. Like, we're playing Alabama. We've played them. Two times. I'm looking at the tape, it's pretty much the same stuff. Out of 65 plays, they'll have four or five different ones, four or five different looks. It's not going to be something I haven't seen. It's not going to be stressful for me.
Once the game starts it's my job to diagnose what's going on. If they do this, we do this. I do a lot of guessing, based on what I think they're going to do. Everybody has tendencies, the way they do things. That's what I do, I try to spot tendencies. What do they do on the 7-yard line? They don't care, they're not going to change. They're looking at what I do on the 7-yard line.
Q: When Charlie Weis took over at Notre Dame, he told his players they'd be at a tactical advantage every week. Do you feel that way?
A: I've always felt this about what we do. This goes back to the Portland State days, the NFL, CFL. If the talent, if we're not as good as the other team, we can win 30 percent of the time because of what we do. If the talent's equal, we're gonna win a whole lot more than they're going to beat us. And if we're better than the other team, we won't lose. I think our offense is a neutralizer. The things we do put stress on teams that don't see it all the time, they don't defend it all the time. So we have a tactical advantage because of what we do. If you look at what Charlie Weis is doing now, he's spreading the field. There might be five wideouts on first down.
My schemes are within the system and he probably does a little more based on personnel. We're in the formation all the time. They might have four linebackers in there, they might have a nickel, a dime in there. Because we're not changing personnel and we're not running guys in and out, there's not the tactical game going on. I do see what they have in, and I have it written on my sheet, they do this a certain percent of the time, this a certain percent of the time. So I guess, an educated guess.
Q: Rice would just drop everybody back and try to frustrate the quarterback. It's like they would bet that you'd screw up somewhere on the way to the goal line.
A: I think most teams are like that. Rice would have really smart players, and in their zone they didn't screw up as much as other teams. I think San Diego State's mentality was that way last year. I went into that game thinking they were the best defense we were playing. That game worried me more than any other game we played because it was a game everyone in Hawaii thought we should win. And I'm thinking this is a hard game to win. But the light came on (for quarterback Colt Brennan) that day. He threw as many touchdown passes that game as they had given up all year.