UH defense is ahead
McMackin emphasizes that Hawaii's offense has also improved
Yes, there were some things the Hawaii offense did well yesterday in its 25-play skirmish against the Warriors defense. But a day after UH's renovated run-and-shoot clicked, it took some licks.
If this had been full-contact, it would've been ugly. The Warrior defenders penetrated the under-construction offensive line for what would've been five sacks.
Head coach Greg McMackin, the former defensive coordinator, knows he has to be optimistic -- and diplomatic.
"I thought we got a lot better today, really, on both sides of the ball. I was pleased with the mentality and physicalness of the front. I thought our coverage was tight, drops (into coverage) by the linebackers," McMackin said, then repeating twice. "Good things on both sides of the ball, improved on both sides of the ball. That's what you look for as a coach."
The cliché is true. Defense is ahead at this time -- and it should be, with UH replacing a Heisman Trophy finalist at quarterback, four starting receivers and auditioning O-linemen in "Deal or No Deal"-like numbers. The one guy on offense who has a job locked up, center John Estes, was resting a sore hamstring.
The O did do well in some priority areas. The most important number was zero -- as in no botched snaps and no turnovers.
"We're working under the center and emphasizing that and it's been outstanding," McMackin said. "We're getting four, five, six centers ready (yesterday it was No. 1 right guard Lafu Tuioti-Mariner). "There were some great catches out there and crispness you usually don't see this time of year in the passing."
But the day belonged to the defense, especially tackle Rocky Savaiigaea (sack, blocked pass) and John Fonoti (two sacks).
"We play a certain style and they have a certain mentality," McMackin said. "They came out to work."