CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM
The Warriors' offensive linemen went through drills at yesterday's first practice.
Revamped O-line will be key
Keith Ah-Soon did plenty of fishing during his younger days in American Samoa. Hawaii football teammate John Estes recently introduced him to a specific style.
"Spear fishing," the junior offensive tackle said with a big smile.
With the departures of Samson Satele, Dane Uperesa and Tala Esera, Hawaii opened yesterday's first fall practice with a new-look offensive line.
One of the most important aspects of building a cohesive front five is bonding. Warrior offensive lines of the past have done such things as karaoke and basketball to build chemistry, but this year's squad decided to take to the water.
Three days a week during the summer, senior Hercules Satele got everyone together for morning workouts before spending the afternoon in the ocean looking for fish.
"All the new guys coming from the mainland were like 'Damn, dudes, you guys are crazy," Ah-Soon said. "Me, from Samoa, I never seen those spear guns before. I was excited to go out there and shoot some fish."
Estes, who grew up on the mainland, had relatives from Hawaii who took him out in the water once or twice to show him how to fish with a spear gun. Once the sophomore showed the rest of the linemen how to do it, it caught on. They have varying levels of success.
"You've got Keith out there looking like a polar bear when he's swimming," Estes said. "It's kind of scary sometimes."
Estes and Satele are the only two returning starters on the line. Estes started at right guard last season, but is moving to center this season. That opens the door for two tackle spots and the right guard position to be won during the next few weeks.
Senior Larry Sauafea, Ah-Soon and junior Keoni Steinhoff took most of the snaps with the first team during yesterday's practice and showed the effort that offensive line coach Dennis McKnight was hoping for on the opening day.
"Guys are in shape and excited for training camp to start, which is a good sign because training camp is not fun," he said. "They want the dividends of what's going to pay off from the hard work they have put in."
Quarterback Colt Brennan and his returning cast of receivers put up record-setting numbers in this offense last year. With all of them back for another season, the real question mark as practice begins is how quickly the offensive line can come together. They must replace a second-round draft pick and two NFL free-agent signees.
"There's no way you can say we'll just go on business as usual without Dane, Sam and Tala," McKnight said. "The job will still get done. It might not get done as polished or as fancy or as easy or as clean, but it will get done."