Refreshed UH back at practice
After finals week concludes, it's all about the Hawaii Bowl
Even with the stress of finals week still weighing on their minds, the Hawaii Warriors were eager to strap on the pads again yesterday.
"I'm not used to it," senior defensive end Ikaika Alama-Francis joked. "It was forever."
The Warriors (10-3) went back to their customary morning schedule yesterday for their first full practice in preparation for their game against Arizona State (7-5) in the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl at Aloha Stadium on Christmas Eve.
After taking last week off following the regular-season finale against Oregon State on Dec. 2, the team had hour-long workouts on Monday and Wednesday before getting back into their normal practice routine.
"It's the same bowl schedule we've always used and it's worked so far," UH head coach June Jones said. "We're healthier and the kids were sharp."
"On Monday, we had a great practice and came out pretty much on fire," UH quarterback Colt Brennan said. "Today was the first day back in the pads and it was fun to get back into it. ... We're glad to be back. It's always fun to be playing in bowl season."
The Warriors hadn't had a bye week since early September following the season opener at Alabama, playing 12 straight weeks culminating with the Oregon State game.
"We didn't really know how much the break would benefit us until we came back on Monday and did (7-on-7s)," Brennan said. "We were just fresh, the legs were fresh and guys were flying around. You could tell the break really did give us a needed boost of energy."
Defensive coordinator Jerry Glanville returned to town on Wednesday after taking a long weekend to visit with his wife, Brenda, and son, Justin, back home in Georgia.
"Mentally, I don't think we missed a beat today," Glanville said of the defense's performance yesterday. "We didn't have much zip yet, but we've got 10 days -- you don't want to peak too early."
The time off allowed some of the Warriors' injuries to heal. Senior nose tackle Kahai LaCount is back in the mix on the defensive line after missing the end of the season with a knee injury.
Glanville was also happy to see linebacker Brashton Satele healthier after dealing with several injuries throughout the season.
Though rest was a priority for the Warriors during the break, they were able to get enough running and lifting done to keep in shape for the bowl game.
"Our bodies were worn down; I know my body was aching," Alama-Francis said. "We were going 12 weeks, but we got through it and I thought we did a tremendous job coming together and we have to come together one more time."
The team practices every day except Sunday leading up to the game with the Sun Devils.
And with the fall semester officially ending on the Manoa campus today, the players' focus will soon shift from papers and exams to getting ready for one more game.
"Right now I'm not even thinking about football," said Alama-Francis, who still had a paper to complete by today. "I can't wait until Friday and everything is done and all I have to worry about is football. It'll be a great relief."
More honors: Warrior receiver Davone Bess was an honorable mention pick on the CollegeFootballNews.com Sophomore All-America team.
Kahuku graduate Jeremy Perry of Oregon State and Hawaii Prep grad Max Unger of Oregon were first-team selections.