Medeiros steps up in stepping up to fill in for starter
Now carrying a lighter load, Hawaii slotback Jon Medeiros jumped at his chance to run with the first unit yesterday.
The junior from Kapolei stepped in with the starters for the team period after Mike Washington tweaked a hamstring earlier in the Warriors' practice, and both he and freshman Eric Shaffer were productive in the 11-on-11 session.
Medeiros got loose deep over the middle on a connection from Inoke Funaki. Shaffer was able to get open down the seam for a completion of about 30 yards from Tyler Graunke and later found a soft spot in the coverage for a sizable gain from Funaki.
It was the second straight day the offense was able to get into a groove after struggling to find a rhythm early in spring practice.
Both receivers said getting more repetitions in the offense has them feeling more comfortable in reading the coverages.
"I'm just starting to understand the concepts of the offense and it's really more reaction than thinking," Shaffer said. "That's what's helping me right now. It's starting to feel natural again, like in high school."
While Shaffer redshirted last fall, Medeiros played sparingly as a sophomore, catching one pass for 7 yards.
In the offseason he made a commitment to shed about 10 extra pounds that had been slowing him down in the fall, dropping to 190 this spring.
"I just feel a lot faster, healthier, the legs feel a lot better," Medeiros said. "I wasn't used to running with all that weight. ... I don't know how it happened, but it happened. I just gained a lot of weight and I found myself tweaking hamstrings. I wasn't used to running with and working with it, so I had to lose it."
Medeiros, who transferred to UH from Western Oregon, said running an offense in high school has benefits when reading defenses as a receiver. He played quarterback at Kapolei, where he shared duties with current Navy signal-caller Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada.
"I get to see things that the quarterback sees. I understand the perspective of the quarterback," Medeiros said.
"When you're out there it's more like you have to get a feel for things, it's not just set routes, it's different routes in different coverages. ... It takes repetitions, so the more reps you get, the more you see things, the more confidence you get."
The Warriors haven't done much kicking in the spring, but they've been laying the groundwork for their special teams units by devoting the first period of practice to punt protection.
"We want to focus on punt the whole spring," said assistant coach Ikaika Malloe, who oversees special teams.
"The reason punt is so important is the majority of our special teams will be made up from the punt team. Most of your athletes, your physical guys, are on the punt team and we'll use them on the rest of the special teams."
While coaches Malloe, Cal Lee and Alex Gerke work with the front line -- mostly linebackers, safeties and the beefier running backs -- on blocking and coverage assignments, Rich Miano tutors the "gunners" on getting downfield to cover kicks.
Apologies to Neil Sedaka
, but breaking up was far from hard to do for the Hawaii defensive backs yesterday.
After a slow start in which the offense completed its first seven passes in the team session, the secondary stepped up with some nicely timed hits and strips that turned sure receptions into incompletions.
Right cornerback starting contender Calvin Roberts got it going, and his was quickly followed by pass breakups from transfer corners Richard Torres and Ryan Perry and transfer safety Mana Silva.
On the last play of practice, backup guard Joey Lipp
crushed hard-charging starting defensive end John Fonoti
with a textbook-perfect trap block. It sprung Jake Heun
for a gain on what would've been a loss of yards (and a huge collision). The play symbolized how far the offense has come along in the last few days.
"That was done very well," said head coach Greg McMackin, after watching the block on tape.