Libre, Wright-Jackson allowed to run free
Hawaii's co-first-string running backs were allowed to cut loose a bit yesterday after mostly biding their time in the first two team sessions of the week at spring practice.
Daniel Libre showed some of the moves that earned him playing time toward the end of last season with good gains on a shovel pass and an off-tackle run.
Leon Wright-Jackson got into his fast gear despite a wet grass field, turning the corner for long gains twice.
"It felt good, like high school, downhill kind of running," said Wright-Jackson, a Parade All-American from Pasco, Wash., who transferred to UH from Nebraska last year but didn't play much late in the season. "I'm just getting my technique down and getting my endurance up a little bit."
Although they're at the top of the running backs list, Libre and Wright-Jackson both know that can change quickly, with plenty of potential contributors behind them.
"Yeah I'm used to it, switching my role up a lot," said Libre, who has also practiced at slotback at UH. "If I gotta split time with anyone, it's good it's Leon, he's a good guy, athlete. We're going to run a lot more, so I'm looking forward to that. Adding some plays.
"Our running game is to try to keep (defenses) honest. They always worried about passing, now they're going to have to worry about us running the ball," Libre added. "There's a lot of good backs this year, and (Dave) Farmer's not even in now. When he comes back, it's going to change up again."
It was another big day for the Hawaii defense in the pass-rush department. The only thing that saved the UH quarterbacks was their orange jerseys.
Tackle Keala Watson had two sacks, while tackles Chris Leatigaga and Josh Leonard and linebackers R.J. Kiesel-Kauhane and Mana Lolotai had one apiece.
Linebacker Adam Leonard and safety Spencer Smith both nearly made interceptions, but didn't come up with the catches.
Soares, Lane back soon?
Starting junior linebacker Blaze Soares
underwent an MRI test that showed no damage in his shoulder, and he will likely be cleared to practice next week, coach Greg McMackin
Soares said earlier yesterday that he didn't expect to put on the pads again this spring.
"Probably," Soares said. "No sense make anything worse."
McMackin said Soares was held out of practice and received treatment Wednesday as a "precautionary" measure.
He has been diagnosed with a stinger, a nerve injury that usually requires a few days of rest.
Soares, a hard-hitting fan favorite, was dogged by shoulder and hamstring injuries last season and played in just nine games. He was in on 27 tackles. Kiesel-Kauhane has replaced Soares on the first unit at weakside linebacker.
Junior wide receiver Malcolm Lane said yesterday he expects to return "early next week," after rolling an ankle during Wednesday's practice.
"I feel a little bummed that I injured myself -- that's the last thing I needed," he said. "I don't want to be missing practice, and let all the other guys down."
He was on crutches the day of the injury but was off them by that afternoon. He observed yesterday's practice from the practice-field sidelines.
Making some Noy-se
, a walk-on slotback, probably got some nods of approval when coaches watched the tape of yesterday's practice.
The 5-foot-8, 175-pound freshman caught back-to-back passes from fellow San Diegan Jake Santos yesterday.
Not bad for a guy who said he isn't comfortable in the run-and-shoot yet.
"It's not as natural as I want it to be," Noy said. "You gotta read on the run, you gotta read the coverage. I'm still new to this offense. It's really tough. I've got the concepts of the plays in my head, I just have to read the defenses. I've got to read the defenses mentally."
Noy has been working at the left slot, behind Mike Washington, Jon Medeiros and Miah Ostrowski.
"He's struggling with everything, but he has a knack for finding the spots," offensive coordinator Ron Lee said.
The offensive line of Ray Hisatake
, Brysen Ginlack
, Lafu Tuioti-Mariner
, Raphael Ieru
and Adrian Thomas
saw plenty of action in offense-only reps yesterday.
The first group during team session was Aaron Kia, Keith AhSoon, Austin Hansen, Tuioti-Mariner and Keoni Steinhoff.
Starting center John Estes still had a tender hamstring.