CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Leon Wright-Jackson has rushed for a team-high 112 yards on just 16 carries in his first four games with Hawaii. A starter the past three games, the sophomore has scored one touchdown. Wright-Jackson says coach June Jones has given him more freedom to run starting this week against Idaho.
Wright-Jackson gets green light to ‘just run wild’
Don't be surprised to see Leon Wright-Jackson running with more freedom this Saturday at Idaho.
During a recent tape session, Hawaii coach June Jones noticed the sophomore running back trying to stick to the offense too much on some of his runs.
"He told me to just run wild," Wright-Jackson said. "If I see something else, hit it as hard as possible and get upfield."
Wright-Jackson leads the team in rushing with 112 yards and a 7.0 yards per carry average, but has just one touchdown this season.
He is beginning to find that comfort level he had as a senior at Pasco High School (Wash.), where he rushed for more than 1,800 yards and 25 touchdowns in one season.
"Now I'm seeing stuff that I haven't seen since high school," he said. "I'm about to hit it now since Coach said it."
Wright-Jackson has started the past three games for the Warriors, but has split the carries with freshman Kealoha Pilares.
Pilares has rushed for 107 yards on 21 attempts and scored the first rushing touchdown of his career against Charleston Southern last weekend.
Now that Pilares has played four games, he too expects to show a lot more as his confidence rises.
"It's more instinctive now," the former Damien star said. "I'm going out there and reacting to what is happening and not really thinking as much."
Both should see touches against an Idaho team ranked 79th in rushing defense.
The Hawaii offense hopes silence is golden Saturday.
Only around 16,000 fans can cram into the Kibbie Dome, but the Vandals' indoor home stadium can get very loud. That means UH might use a silent count to snap the ball at times.
On a physical cue from quarterback Colt Brennan, the players begin counting in their heads, and the ball is snapped on the pre-arranged count -- without the traditional verbal "huts."
What's most important? Sneaking a peek? Good timing with teammates? Internal rhythm?
"All of the above," senior left guard Hercules Satele said. "You have to have a sixth sense and you have to trust the ball will be snapped on that count."
Satele and Brennan said the Warriors used the silent count to varying levels of success last year at Alabama and three weeks ago at Louisiana Tech.
"It could be very loud at Idaho, so we have to make sure we have that package ready," Brennan said.
"We used it a lot at LaTech, especially in the second half," Brennan added. "Everyone has to be on the same page and you can't anticipate."
No cork popping
Offensive line coach Dennis McKnight
says his unit still isn't ready to "open any champagne bottles."
Hawaii did not give up a sack against Charleston Southern and has allowed just two in its past two games.
"It's just all about experience," McKnight said. "The more you play the better you get."
Right tackle Keoni Steinhoff was named the offensive player of the game last weekend.
"He's physical and stays with the opponent really good," McKnight said.
Linebacker Blaze Soares
, cornerback Ryan Keomaka
and safety Erik Robinson
were all slated to be on today's charter to Lewiston, Idaho, making their first road trip of the season. Soares (hamstring) has not played in a game yet. ... Starting receiver Jason Rivers
did not practice yesterday due to his sore back, but wasn't ruled out yet. Malcolm Lane
may start in his place a second straight game. ... Brennan favored his sore right ankle yesterday, but said it was "just a little aggravated" and that he'd "definitely" play Saturday. ... "Hawaii Warrior Football," a book by J. David Miller
, can be pre-purchased at www.warriorsrespond.com
, the June Jones Foundation Web site.
The book is due out next month.