Hawaii’s defense benefits from Colt
NEW ORLEANS » Hawaii defensive coordinator Greg McMackin is glad he doesn't have to defend Colt Brennan on the weekends. He gets enough of that each weekday in practice, thank you very much.
"I've had the opportunity to defend a lot of great quarterbacks, whatever," McMackin said before yesterday's practice. "The great ones. John Elway. Warren Moon. Dan Marino. But he's the most accurate, or right in there with those guys, and he's got a good arm.
"It has really helped us get better as a defense. We're 19th in pass efficiency because in practice he forces us to be on people. Colt Brennan's a big-time player and I think he's underestimated, really."
How well Brennan will play in the National Football League is open to debate. Some see him as a first-rounder. Others view him as only the seventh-best quarterback in the NFL Draft.
But as far as McMackin is concerned, he's going to have a long career at the next level.
"I see him going very high because he can do what the good ones do," McMackin said.
"He's got it, whatever it is. He's got accuracy and that's so important. Plus he's mobile in the pocket. He hasn't been as mobile this year because he's been hurt with that ankle."
What impresses McMackin most his Brennan's ability to focus on the task at hand.
"He's a rock star in Hawaii," McMackin said. "I think he's handled himself unbelievably. He has a lot of pressure on him. He has a lot of decisions he's going to have to make. He's a loose kind of guy and he's getting a lot of great advice from (UH head coach) June (Jones).
"He cares about people. He really cares about the people in Hawaii. He is into this team. That's why he came back. He wanted all this to happen and it has happened. And that's pretty special. To be honest, this is really a special group of guys."
Knowshon Moreno's favorite running back? One he never saw play: Walter Payton.
The styles are similar. Like Moreno, 'Sweetness' combined power, speed and moves.
But the Georgia freshman said it wasn't any one of those attributes that attracted him.
"Just how hard he worked, his work ethic," said Moreno, who was introduced to the late Hall-of-Famer's career via a book he read in high school.
No, he's not related to former UGA greats Champ and Boss Bailey.
But Sean Bailey possesses a fine bloodline of his own. He is the son of former Falcons receiver Stacey Bailey. Bailey played nine years, all with Atlanta, and remains active with the Falcons' alumni activities.
That's how Stacey Bailey met UH coach June Jones, who was the Falcons head man from 1994 to 1996. Sean said he has never met Jones.
Jones joined Atlanta as assistant head coach in 1991, a year after Bailey completed his career.
Sean Bailey is the Dawgs' leading receiver this year with 37 catches for 597 yards and four touchdowns.
"I look at it as a blessing," said Bailey, when asked about having a father who played in the NFL. "My dad knows every situation I've been in. I love to pick his ear."
Another media darling
Graduate assistant Brian Kajiyama was interviewed by Pete Thamel of The New York Times yesterday, and several other reporters have expressed interest in his inspirational story.
"Colt recommended me to him, so that demonstrated that players see me as more than just someone who hangs around," Kajiyama said.
Despite dealing with the challenges of cerebral palsy since birth, Kajiyama has gone from fan to volunteer to graduate assistant in recent years. Kajiyama is confined to a wheelchair, and communicates via a computer keyboard and automated voice. One of his main jobs is breaking down game tape for the UH defensive coaches.
"He's a good interview," Thamel said of the doctoral candidate. "He's funny and bright."
First ha'a in 'Nawlins
You might see anything in New Orleans. But what was likely a first for these parts occurred at the Saints practice facility yesterday when the Warriors opened their workout with a spirited ha'a, the UH football team's Polynesian dance/chant.
It's not, however, the first time for such a performance in the state of Louisiana; in Ruston, in September, the Warriors did the haka, the original Maori version of the act.
Hawaii was penalized 15 yards on the opening kickoff of that game, because that routine included a throat-slitting gesture deemed intimidating by the WAC, and was performed with the LaTech team still on the field. The ha'a includes no such gesture.