CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Junior linebacker Adam Leonard had 11 tackles against UNLV and has found more success in the 4-3 defense.
Leonard no joke to Hawaii’s foes
Adam Leonard likes a good laugh. But that's not why the Hawaii junior linebacker is called joker in the Warriors defense.
He's a joker like a wild card, an X-factor -- the unknown to be feared by opposing offenses.
In Saturday's 49-14 victory at UNLV, Leonard came at the Rebels from all kinds of different angles, finishing with 11 tackles. He also had 12 stops the week before against Louisiana Tech, including a sack for 19 yards.
Leonard's effort at UNLV was somewhat overshadowed by middle linebacker Solomon Elimimian's 14 stops that earned him a WAC Player of the Week honor.
But Leonard was just as disruptive and destructive. UH's defensive scheme against the Rebels involved Leonard and Elimimian among eight Warriors crowded at the line of scrimmage.
UH wanted to disrupt freshman quarterback Travis Dixon.
"We blitzed 30 times," defensive coordinator Greg McMackin said. "He's their focal point, so we wanted to confuse him and get him nervous."
The joker was a big part of that.
"We knew if we sit back in a zone he'd pick us apart. So we put some pressure in his face," Leonard said. "Come up to the line, come off the edge. We showed something different on almost every play. We switched it up a lot. It's a different position for me. I'm enjoying it. There's a lot of different possibilities."
Leonard was an inside linebacker in a 3-4 defense last year. He has more freedom to make plays as an outside 'backer in the 4-3.
He said he's still not 100 percent from offseason knee surgery.
"Hopefully by midseason I'll be back to full speed. Mentally, I'm still not comfortable," Leonard said. "There's certain things where I don't move as fluidly, I kind of favor my leg. But I'm doing extra work during the week, trying to prepare myself for the game."
Tale of the tape
Charleston Southern coach Jay Mills
said he sent UH a replacement scouting tape as soon as he was told by a Warriors assistant that the original was unusable.
Jones said UH received the replacement Tuesday afternoon, and it is functional.
"It was nothing intentional," Mills said. "We're using a new system and there were some technological glitches."
Jones said he received a phone message from Mills on the matter, and "he sounds sincere."
Jones got a close look yesterday at Blaze Soares
, who did some work with the scout team. The coach said the hamstring-addled linebacker could see action tomorrow. "He still has some apprehension, but I think he'll probably play," Jones said. ... Junior linebacker Tyson Kafentzis
was suspended for two games after a scuffle during kickoff coverage drills Wednesday. ... Greg Salas
, who was the No. 2 left wide receiver, has been taking reps on the right this week. Malcolm Lane
is now the first backup at both the wideouts, with Salas next in line at both spots. "Greg is just a redshirt freshman and has a bright future," receivers coach Ron Lee
said. "Right now he has some good players ahead of him."
Brian McInnis of the Star-Bulletin contributed to this report.