RICHARD WALKER / RWALKER@STARBULLETIN.COM
Hawaii wide receiver Tua Mahaley wore his yellow scout team jersey during practice yesterday.
UH gets darker look for practice
Brennan says black pants make a difference in the team's togetherness during workouts
Yesterday was a sad one for the traditionalists who still long for the return of the Rainbows.
The Hawaii football team took the field on the first day of full pads with everyone in black pants. The Warriors had practiced in previous years with the old white uniform pants with rainbow piping.
"We finally have enough (black) pants, four or five years of them," UH coach June Jones said. "Helmets, we don't have enough helmets so we're wearing the old white ones. We get so many game pants per year from Nike and now we have enough old ones."
Although black absorbs more heat, the players like the new pants.
"The way our uniforms were in the past, they were funny-looking uniforms," junior starting quarterback Colt Brennan said. "We look more like a football team out there. It's funny to think pants would bring a team closer together, but there's more of a unity feel.
"They're comfortable," Brennan added. "I thought we looked good, except the quarterbacks, we look kind of funny with black pants and orange jerseys."
Speaking of jersey color, the scout-team players aren't thrilled about the yellow they've been issued. They're not supposed to be, since it means they're not contending for playing time on offense or defense, at least for now.
Some, like receiver Antwan "Tua" Mahaley, are doing something about it.
"I'm going to try to get rid of this jersey, but while I have it I'm going to do what the coaches want from me on the scout team," said Mahaley, a second-year freshman from Carson, Calif. "I was kind of surprised when I first got the yellow jersey. But I know my job is to give the defense good looks, and later on I'll get turned over to offense."
Mahaley got behind the defense for a long pass during 6-on-7 drills yesterday.
"Oooh, there's a new deep threat," cornerback Kenny Patton marveled from the sideline.
Another cornerback, C.J. Hawthorne, said the 6-foot-4, 200-pound Mahaley can be hard to cover.
"He's a really good receiver. I think he's going to wake up a lot of people," Hawthorne said.
UH is two-deep at both wideout spots, so Mahaley might have a long wait for playing time. Jones and receivers coach Ron Lee are aware of him, though.
"He's a hard practicer, a hard worker and he had a good day today," Jones said.
Lee said Mahaley is still learning the system.
"He had a great day today. He's still trying to understand what we're doing," Lee said. "He has his moments, both good and bad. But the more reps he gets ... today he had a nice day going deep, catching some deep balls. Tua's stepping it up."
The Warriors went after each other with some actual tackling sessions, but the contact wasn't that much more than during some intense sessions toward the end of last week.
"We've kind of been practicing this way, we just didn't have full pads on. We hit a little bit more, but as far as offense and defense we practiced pretty much the same. The guys are practicing hard," Jones said.
Running backs out:
Starting senior running back Nate Ilaoa sat out yesterday because a teammate stepped on his hand Saturday. He said he expects to return today or tomorrow.
One of Ilaoa's backups, sophomore Khevin Peoples, was stricken by dehydration midway through yesterday's practice. He missed the afternoon session and might be back today.
Second-year freshman Jayson Rego made it through practice, but he left needing medical attention for a cut to an eye.
Defensive lineman Fale Laeli missed a fifth straight practice with a concussion.
"I don't know why he's not out here," Jones said. "He had a concussion and who knows. I would've anticipated he'd be back four days ago."
Defensive lineman Jason Laumoli was moved to running back. He is the third defensive lineman to make the switch, joining Reagan Mauia and Siave Seti.
Reinforcements on the way:
Junior outside linebacker Amani Purcell said his transfer paperwork from Penn State is finally completed, and that he earned an 'A' in the history class at Honolulu Community College that he needed to enroll at Manoa. The brother of senior defensive end Melila Purcell is expected to join camp this week.
Defensive back Keenan Jones, a junior college transfer, was expected to suit up today.
If Purcell and Jones can get up to speed quickly, they could start or at least play extensively in the Sept. 2 season opener at Alabama.