DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Hawaii offensive line coach Brian Smith worked with Ray Hisatake yesterday after the scrimmage.
Warriors’ offensive line is leaking
Some spring growing pains were expected for the rebuilt unit
As part of an offensive unit that suffered a bruising of both ego and body yesterday, the Hawaii reconstructing O-line knows there's only one way to go.
There was no way to sugarcoat the matter for offensive line coach Brian Smith. He knows that between four would-be sacks and a few fumbled snaps from under center, much work remains to be done in spring ball.
"It was a great day for the defense," Smith acknowledged. "We struggled at times, but we just gotta keep going as an offense. Part of being young and doing some new things at the same time is there's some growing pains that go with it. We're going to keep coaching those kids hard, staying after them, and they're going to keep getting better."
Several young faces were tested in the team's first scrimmage of the spring, including freshman Sila Lefiti, who played center for about the first half of the repetitions.
Talk about on-the-job training. The 6-foot 290-pounder from Santa Ana, Calif., had never played that position before as a lifelong guard out of Mater Dei High.
"The coaches, they showed me some love, told me that I'm doing good and holding it down right now as a freshman, getting used to the offense," Lefiti said. "Just play by my high school motto: Pride, Poise and Courage. I just fight it off like that, remember all the tough times I've gone through."
Daniel Johnson (left) and Raphael Ieru (right) flanked him at the guards and Ray Hisatake (left) and Adrian Thomas (right) manned the tackle positions.
Halfway through, Austin Hansen took over at center, with Johnson and Nathan McKay as the guards and Clayton Laurel and veteran Aaron Kia at the tackles. Sophomore Joey Lipp provided spot duty to both guard positions.
With all the shuffling of linemen and six quarterbacks, it was difficult to find cohesion. At this point, what Smith wants to see most is fire that matches that of the ebullient defense.
It didn't help that center John Estes -- the only O-lineman with a job locked up -- and Keith AhSoon and Laupepa Letuli were out nursing injuries.
"Mostly what we talked about after practice were our standards as an offensive line, and playing to that standard," Smith said. "What we tell them a lot is, they really have to play the game with a passion at the offensive line. Right now there's only a few guys that are, the one that I pointed out to them was Lafu (Tuioti-Mariner), who really played his butt off today."
As one defensive reserve after another burst through the line, it was difficult to stay positive. Hisatake reminded himself that it was beneficial in the long run as he and his teammates learn from their mistakes.
"It's kind of depressing at times, frustrating, but these guys are only making us better," he said. We force ourselves to keep our heads up."