Defense takes advantage of open season on quarterbacks
Normally, wearing an orange jersey during practice means not having to absorb hits.
The Hawaii football team's rules regarding quarterbacks were altered a bit yesterday morning as the Warriors closed the practice with a full-contact scrimmage with a couple of backup quarterbacks fair game for the defense.
Linebacker Joshua Rice delivered the hit of the day, knocking quarterback Kiran Kepo'o off his pins and jarring the ball loose as the freshman scrambled out of the pocket.
"I was expecting him to try to put a move on me, but I just went right through him," Rice said. "When you have hits like that, it feels sweet. Feels like you go right through him and you stand up and everyone's just going crazy."
Kepo'o and Inoke Funaki were live for the period, and Kepo'o had a chipped tooth to show for his morning.
"It woke me up a little bit, like it's not high school any more," said the Iolani graduate. "It was a little different. It was good to get that first hit, kind of brought back those memories from back in high school."
Most of the starters were held out of the scrimmage period as the UH coaches took a look at players who will be fighting for spots on the roster for fall camp.
"We have to make a lot of decisions on about 30 players who'll be coming back in the fall, so we're trying to give everybody a chance to make it," head coach June Jones said.
"They know we've been giving them opportunities. You have to give them all a chance and make sure we don't miss on someone who can play."
Along with Rice, safety Dane Porlas was in on a couple of hard hits. Receiver Dylan Linkner turned in the biggest gain for the offense, catching a pass over the middle and finding running room down the right side.
"The whole spring you're just working hard trying to get the plays down and then out here you just have to put what you practice into use and let loose," Rice said. "The scrimmages are a big deal to get your face out there and people get to notice you and get more reps."
The final week of spring practice begins tomorrow. The Warriors will also practice Wednesday and Thursday and close the spring with the Football Ohana Festival on Saturday at Aloha Stadium.
The weekday practices are 7-9 a.m. Saturday's event runs 5-8:30 p.m., and includes an autograph session prior to a 90-minute practice. Admission is free.