SB FILE / APRIL 2007
Solomon Elimimian and Jake Patek are two starters UH defensive coordinator Greg McMackin, center, can count on. CLICK FOR LARGE
McMackin happy with effort
With the boss away was it time for the Hawaii defense to play?
Coach June Jones was on the mainland attending funeral services for Bill Walsh -- the man whose practice style many NFL coaches, including Jones, emulated.
As it turns out, defensive coordinator Greg McMackin is also an advocate of the run-hard-but-don't-tackle approach, and Jones' absence yesterday didn't make it open season on ball carriers.
Catch more updates on the UH Sports Extra blog
Like Jerry Glanville before him, McMackin agrees with the philosophy of not lighting up your own guys.
"Everywhere. Miami, Seattle, San Francisco. The first time here (1999). Go full speed and don't take them to the ground," McMackin said. "Our practices are as good a tempo as anyone in the country."
UH fans have oft lamented the lack of tackling in practice, believing it leads to missed stops when the games start. But you can teach tackling fundamentals without putting your players at peril, McMackin said.
"We're always working on tackling, pursuit. Use your eyes, rip, wrap, keep your feet moving. Our job is to get them into position to do that," he said. "I'm not worried. We have natural hitters. We know they're going to hit."
McMackin said he'd like to see more big plays generated by his defense in scrimmages. There were a few yesterday, including a leaping interception by safety Desmond Thomas and a blocked pass by end Amani Purcell.
"We want to make more plays," McMackin said. "Our quarterbacks are so accurate, so it's hard. But we came up with a couple today, including Desmond's.
"Our thing is to get the offense back on the field. Interceptions, sacks, tackles-for-loss."
Other than the relative dearth of forced turnovers and such, McMackin said he is pleased with things so far.
"For the first week I'm really happy. Everyone's working hard. The attitude has been outstanding," he said. "You do bed check and the lights are out and they're all in their bunks. There's no doubt they have some certain goals in mind and they know it starts here."
Junior kicker Dan Kelly lived up to his vow to make more field goals yesterday. He made his first seven from 35 yards, missing only the eighth and final.
The No. 2 kicker, sophomore Briton Forester, went 3-for-6.
Safeties still close
Juniors Thomas and Keao Monteilh remain in a neck-and-neck battle to be the starting free safety.
"It's a great competition. We've got guys like Des, we got Dane (Porlas), we got new guys coming in. The young guys might be given a chance to play, too," Monteilh said.
Defensive backs coach Rich Miano said JC transfer Erik Robinson and true freshman Le'Marcus Gibson have practiced well, and walk-on cornerback Jakeem Hawkins has been a "pleasant surprise."
Two-a-days start today
The Warriors were set to practice from 8:30 to 11:30 this morning with another session from 3:30 to 5 p.m.