Brennan and the boys take it easy
When the Hawaii offense and defense convened for seven-on-seven drills yesterday morning, receivers Davone Bess and Ryan Grice-Mullins spent most of the period apart from the main group.
Instead, they spent the time off to the side catching passes from Colt Brennan.
Hawaii gets a look at younger players
With three starters returning on a prolific receiver corps, some of the Hawaii football team's younger pass-catchers have a chance to catch the attention of the Warrior coaching staff during this month's spring practices.
Davone Bess and Ryan Grice-Mullins, two-year starters at inside receiver, are working at outside receiver this spring, giving others the opportunity to get more work.
Michael Washington and Aaron Bain backed up the duo last season and are among the slotbacks looking for more playing time if Bess and Grice-Mullins are asked to contribute on the outside.
"Now they get their chance this spring to fight for positions and position themselves on the depth chart," UH receiver coach Ron Lee said.
"That's going to make us better as a team, if everyone focuses on their assignments and getting better."
With two seasons of starting experience and more than 4,000 yards covered between them, Bess and Grice-Mullins have demonstrated their ability to operate within the Warriors' run-and-shoot attack. So spring practice represents a chance for others to prove themselves as well.
With Bess and Ryan Grice-Mullins diversifying their skills by working at the outside receiver spots this spring, some of the team's younger slotbacks have the opportunity to impress the coaches.
That means more reps for players such as juniors Michael Washington and Aaron Bain.
"It's a critical spring for Michael and Aaron," receivers coach Ron Lee said. "They have to step up and make plays, especially on (7-on-7) and elevens. It's game-tempo, that's when they have to step up their performance. We all have to get better if we're going to be a good football team."
Washington -- who made a leaping grab over the middle during yesterday's practice -- and Bain have backed up Bess and Grice-Mullins the last two years and caught 10 passes between them last season.
They led the rotation during seven-on-seven period yesterday, while Brennan, Bess and Grice-Mullins were called in for a few plays toward the end of the period.
"Everything feels good, the offense is basically in my head so it's a matter of me of ballin' out right now," Washington said. "The plays, reading defenses, that's all locked down."
Said Bess: "They know what they're doing so when they get in there it's just a matter of them making plays. They're there mentally, they just have to make plays."
Along with Bess and Grice-Mullins at slotback, UH returns Jason Rivers on the outside. Rivers finished second on the team to Bess in catches (72) and yards (1,178) and was tied for third with 10 touchdowns.
But the Warriors lost three outside receivers who started games last season in Ross Dickerson, Chad Mock and Ian Sample.
Sophomore Antwan Mahaley was first in the rotation on the outside during yesterday's team periods. Redshirt freshman Greg Salas also made a few nice catches yesterday, and is among the group looking to work their way up the depth chart and contend for a job in fall camp.
"I'm looking forward to it big time," Salas said of his opportunity this spring. "Right now it's kind of up for someone to step up and take it."
Yesterday marked the first time this spring that the Warriors practiced in pads with the offense and defense getting a chance to face off.
While the spring is a chance for the younger players to get more work and earn a look from the coaches, Lee said the 11 remaining practices are key for the proven producers as well.
"It's always a good reminder even though you've got a lot of returnees, you have to pay attention to detail and execution," Lee said after practice.
"The older guys have to really focus on getting better. There's a lot of room to get better and not be happy with the past. This is a whole new season and how they approach this season is critical. They have to really look at this spring as important to set the tempo for how they're going to be for the year."