Questions come easier than answers
HAWAII'S fall camp began yesterday. It was beautiful. Breezy, cool. Ian Sample back, everyone excited.
Then, the running test.
Then, walk-throughs and just-helmets pass patterns. OK, less exciting.
But it gives you time to ponder the kind of questions you tend to have on the first day of camp.
With the return of Nate Ilaoa, does the run-and-shoot finally have an impact threat, a breakaway star, a you'd-better-game-plan-against-this-guy weapon at the running back spot?
Maybe. Ilaoa is certainly talented enough to be that guy. But three things need to happen.
1) He needs to stay healthy;
2) He needs to stay skinny (well, not skinny, but you know what we mean);
3) June Jones needs to make running the ball more of a focal point than he has in recent years.
Unfortunately, all three of these have not happened at the same time in the same season. Yet. But let's address each concern:
1) Injuries. "It was just stuff that was piling on," Ilaoa said. "I'd get injured while I was still rehabbing. So I'd have to keep rehabbing the knee while I was recovering from the shoulder. And stuff was just piling up, and I was just getting backed up. ... This year I was cleared, I didn't have doctors regulating what I can and can't do. I was fortunately able to stay healthy through spring ball. That was the first camp I've been through since I've been here that I've been healthy."
2) He's listed at 254, but it's a different 254. "I was surprised," Ilaoa said. "I didn't weigh myself this whole summer and we go in there," and the guys let him hear about it when his number came up. "It feels a lot better, because I've been running, I've been feeling better when I run. I figure I lost a lot of the bad weight, but lifting with these guys, it's a lot better weight."
3) The run. "That's all situational play-calling," Ilaoa said. "Of course me, I'd love to run the ball a lot, but it's situations that go on, whatever it takes to win games. If I have to run once and we win, I'll run once. ... That's Coach's decision, and you've got to trust the man, because his stuff works."
Is Dennis McKnight as good of a coach as we all fondly remember from the 1999 miracle season and 2000?
"I don't know if I'm as good a coach," McKnight said. "I don't really know about that. But I know I'm still loud. I'm still excitable, still passionate. So, yeah. I was all those things before, so I'm still that."
How hot will it be in Alabama?
Probably very. But with an evening kickoff time, less so.
Is Jerry Glanville already in midseason form?
Yes. Yesterday, during a walk-through -- a walk-through -- he yelled at one of his players: "You don't want it!!!!"
He was joking. I think.
How does Leonard Peters look?
Big. Surprisingly big. Plus, he practiced barefoot. And he was braced together in part with pink athletic tape. Ladies and gentlemen, this is the stuff of which college football folk legends are made.
After having been such an explosive player, adjusting extemporaneously, scrambling, making great plays without really knowing the playbook -- as Jones said yesterday, "I'm thinking about him leading the country in yards, and completing almost 70 percent of his passes, and led the nation in touchdown passes and didn't have a feel for what we were doing" -- will Colt Brennan be better or worse this year now that he will better "stay within the system"?
That's the question, Jimmy. That's the question.
"In the spring, and really Wisconsin and San Diego State last year, I could tell the light was coming on," Jones said.
"It's going to be pretty much where we ended it last year. ... We don't have to build the offense -- we already have it in our memory stored," Brennan said.
Well, it sounds good, but I just hope he doesn't lose what made him a special player.
Yes. That's right, I'm talking about how I hope he continues to throw up on the field.