STAR-BULLETIN / 2006
June Jones has pointed the way to six winning seasons for Hawaii and has quarterback Colt Brennan, a Heisman Trophy candidate, returning for his senior year to lead the Warriors.
Q and A with JJ
Coach June Jones shares his thoughts headed into his ninth year at the UH helm
STORY SUMMARY »
As June Jones prepares for his ninth campaign as University of Hawaii football coach, the former NFL head man can point back at many significant successes.
Jones has led the Warriors to six winning seasons, and is at the top of the school's list of coaching victories.
He has made good on several promises, such as leading the nation in offense and getting UH into the national rankings.
Former Warriors dot NFL rosters, with five from last year's 11-3 team alone drafted.
And quarterback Colt Brennan was sixth in the Heisman Trophy voting last fall after breaking numerous passing records. Brennan returns for his senior year as a preseason All-American and legitmate candidate to be present when college football's highest individual honor is bestowed.
Now, Jones and the Warriors face new challenges and heightened expectations. With a schedule considered one of the weakest in the nation and the fortune of playing perennial WAC champion Boise State at home, many fans expect UH to run the table, winning all 12 games.
That may or may not be enough to propel Hawaii into a BCS bowl game and the chance to be "this year's Boise State," following up on the Broncos' upset of Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl.
Today, tomorrow and Saturday, the Star-Bulletin presents its annual question and answer session with Jones.
Jones covered a wide range of territory yesterday with beat writer Dave Reardon, columnist Kalani Simpson, KKEA 1420-AM play-by-play man Bobby Curran and color analyst Robert Kekaula.
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Jones confident leaders will step up
This is the first of a three-part series of questions and answers with Hawaii football coach June Jones. The questions are from Dave Reardon and Kalani Simpson of the Star-Bulletin and the KKEA 1420-AM UH football radio team of Bobby Curran and Robert Kekaula.
Question: When you hear something like Samson Satele signing his first pro contract, how rewarding is that for you?
Answer: You're happy for all those guys. And it helps us that they have success, you know, it helps the program. So you're happy for them personally, and you're happy for the team. It means more guys will get looked at.
Q: We saw Vince Manuwai yesterday, so it reinforces it's a continuation of things. To what do you attribute this great tradition?
A: You can teach kids to run block, but to have five years of pass blocking (heading) into the NFL ... it used to be you'd go to the National Football League and they'd teach you to pass block. We're just doing it in reverse -- we teach it and they go -- Dane Uperesa, they just moved him to left tackle. That tells you he can pass block. So the coaches probably think we're doing it the right way.
It's a by-product of the system.
Q: When you came back to college, did you expect more offensive linemen to get to that level or did you expect more quarterbacks and receivers to be the ones?
A: I didn't have any expectation either way. I knew that obviously we were going to attract skill players, receivers would want to come here. But I knew that the physical stature of the local kids would fit in with the offensive line and if we teach them to pass block, they're going to have a chance to play. I knew that we (UH) historically, before I got here, I always felt the athleticism in the local kids, in the Polynesian kids, that we would have a chance to get -- I mean, you go to L.A. and the top offensive lineman, you're not going to get him. But we can survive, our school can survive on OIA kids. We can turn them into players. And I think that's proven that we can do it.
Q: Last year at this time we all agreed that it was your most talented team going into the season and it kind of bore out with the great record. How does this year's edition rank with last year's?
A: Personally, I think it's equal. The difference is the leadership and the peers, you know the veteran guys are not here. Samson started games for four years. That's the thing that has to be replaced. And I've seen it already in workouts, these guys are stepping up. Some guys in different ways. Michael Lafaele is taking control of the defense. That'll help us because we lost three pretty good players over there in the front seven. And offensively, Herc (Satele) and John Estes are stepping up, but until they do it in a game and show poise in a game under pressure, and that they can win ...
We were on the road and (the opponents) scored quick ... you just turn down and look and Samson and Tala and those guys are standing there and they've got a look on their faces: 'We're going to win.' Those are things that you've got to replace. But the athletic talent is pretty good.
Q: How important is it that the leader is the one that everybody else fears? Nobody would mess with Samson.
A: I don't know. I've had that type guy. I've had different kids on different teams that all did it different ways. I think Sam certainly was what you described. I think Hercules and John Estes, without Sam there, will prove that they're that tough, too. But they're certainly not going to step into that role while he's there.
Q: Does Mike Lafaele have that kind of presence?
A: He has that too. He's a street fighter.
Q: What's the level of concern for the offensive line?
A: I feel very good about our offensive line. I don't have any concerns. Other than that attitude that, 'We're not gonna get beat.' That's what we've gotta have. You have to have that confidence and you only get it from doing it. You have to do it and then it permeates the room.
Q: How open are the jobs on the offensive line?
A: The top five is pretty solid. (Larry) Sauafea, Estes, Hercules, Keith Ah-Soon and (Keoni) Steinhoff. Those are the top five.
I flipped those guys (tackles) in the spring and I'll continue (to look at it). I think Keith really feels comfortable on the right side. And Keoni about the same on the left side.
Tomorrow: Among other topics, Jones talks about the running back competition and the defense's transition from Jerry Glanville to Greg McMackin.