Warriors have little problem with 220s
The Hawaii football team wasted little time in getting its first exam of the fall out of the way.
After a period of stretching, the Warriors opened their first practice of camp yesterday morning with their annual conditioning test, the 220s.
UH head coach June Jones and assistant strength coach Mel deLaura left the field pleased with the team's overall performance in the series of 220-yard sprints.
DeLaura estimated that 80 percent of the team completed the test, compared to 40 percent last year.
"Way better than last year," he said. "The O-line, the big guys, are in a lot better shape. The skill guys, there maybe was only two guys who didn't make it out of 35."
Said Jones: "As a coach you kind of know who are the guys that are going to be accountable and who aren't. Some of the guys didn't do, obviously, a thing in the offseason. But they're held accountable for that, and there'll be a price to pay. But many, many, many more of the guys took pride in showing up and being leaders.
"I feel like we're in better shape than we have been. We had a lot of guys committed to working, even the guys who were on the mainland did. We're happy with the effort and the leadership of the guys who were here."
Players had to complete the sprints within a prescribed time according to their positions. Those who attended all of the team's voluntary workouts over the summer were rewarded by having to complete six sprints, while the rest did 10.
"These 220s are no joke," running back Nate Ilaoa said. "Unless you're a buck-seventy like some of these skill guys, they just fly. But everybody over 250 were struggling. It's good we got through it."
Some had a little easier time, and just kept on running.
"I only had six, so it was kind of a breeze for me. I actually ran eight," said quarterback Colt Brennan.
As the UH veterans completed their requirements, they were also impressed with the effort of some of the freshmen who began their careers by surviving the test.
"They're all light, though -- you see how small they are," UH senior offensive tackle Tala Esera said. "We have to get some meat on them."
After the test, the team broke up into their position groups for some light drills.
"There was a lot of focusing to do when you're tired," senior defensive end Ikaika Alama-Francis said. "But you're going to play a game tired and you have to be ready to focus on what your plays are, what you're going to be doing. So it was a good experience."
Although the numbers were improved this year, the Warriors realize there's still much to be done before the Sept. 2 opener at Alabama.
"Honestly, we still need to get into better shape," Esera said. "Even though we're good, we can get much, much better."
Checked it out: Jones said players with perfect summer conditioning attendance not having to run as many 220s as their teammates is not in violation of an NCAA rule regarding penalties and benefits stemming from unsupervised, offseason workouts.
"We did our homework on it and checked with the NCAA," Jones said. "What we did was approved."
Extended leave: No, quarterback Inoke Funaki did not have perfect attendance at UH's informal offseason workouts. But for about a week and a half, he was unavoidably detained.
Funaki took a family trip to Tonga -- his parents were attending a high school reunion -- that ended up going longer than originally planned. While there, the bodies of Prince Tu'ipelehake and Princess Kaimana, who were killed in a San Francisco car accident last month, were returned to Tonga.
"Everything slowed down," including air travel, during the period of mourning. For Funaki, there was no going home. Not yet.
"People thought it was worse than it really was. It wasn't really a big deal," he said.
He'd planned a weeklong stay, but ended up leaving about a week and a half after his original departure date.
Not rushing it: Junior slotback/returner Jason Ferguson said he won't play until he's completely sure his twice surgically repaired knee is ready for action.
Ferguson suffered a torn ACL on the first play of last year's season-opening game against USC.
"It's definitely feeling good, but I'm taking my time. I really want to come back for the first game, but realistically not before the middle of the season. That's my goal. Just to be able to come back and be healthy. So worst-case scenario, we shoot for next year, and I know next year I'll be a thousand and fifty percent. If this were my first time I'd probably be more anxious. But I already used two lifelines. I don't have another one."
The Star-Bulletin's Dave Reardon and Kalani Simpson contributed to this report.