Spring is here


POSTED: Tuesday, March 31, 2009

One snap and clear.

The 48-hour rule.

Hawaii's last two head football coaches had their signature slogans for putting the past behind and moving forward.

But as this year's Warriors began spring practice, some continued to cling to memories of last December.

“;It's still fueling a lot of us. We're still kind of mad about it,”; senior linebacker Brashton Satele said of the Warriors' losses to Cincinnati and Notre Dame to close the 2008 season. “;That's what wakes me up every day.”;

The Warriors began head coach Greg McMackin's second spring at the helm with a 2-hour practice yesterday afternoon, approaching the 15 sessions as both a fresh start and a chance to build on the lessons of last season.

“;It's definitely exciting to get back out here and play some real football again,”; quarterback Greg Alexander said. “;I was excited for it. It's a long layover, a long time to think about some games we let slip away.

“;There were a couple games that sit with you. You still think about those now and then so we have to fix our mistakes.”;

The first day was devoted primarily to fundamentals and position drills, as will tomorrow's practice. McMackin said the team will put on the pads and get into more team drills on Saturday, with the Warriors' first scrimmage of the spring set for April 11 on Maui.

“;This is a sense-of-urgency spring,”; McMackin said. “;This isn't the typical spring that you just go through. We have to identify players, and for the first day I think we made a step in the right direction. But we have to continue to get better.”;

McMackin said the Warriors' depth chart serves as a starting point, but “;everything's wide open.”;

Two positions with clear leaders are quarterback and center, where Alexander and John Estes return.

Estes anchors an offensive line that will be a focus in the spring after the Warriors set an NCAA record for sacks allowed last year.

“;It's redemption,”; Estes said. “;Everyone knows what happened last year. Once we start going and doing good like I know we can, we'll get past that stuff, but we have to work hard from now.”;

Offensive coordinator Ron Lee said an emphasis for the spring will be on honing the Warriors' execution in the passing game and noted the difference in experience after one practice.

“;We still have a ways to go, but for the first day it was good,”; Lee said.

“;Last spring we had a lot of different people. Now the guys we have are guys that played. We didn't have that last year. We're moving along a lot faster. I like the enthusiasm, the guys are a lot more confident.”;

The spring also represents an opportunity to address individual skills. Alexander said he's concentrating on making a few mechanical changes to his footwork and throwing motion while continuing to learn the nuances of the offense.

“;Now is the time where you have to get these things worked out,”; Alexander said, “;because once fall camp is here we're not going to have time to work on things like that. By then it has to be second nature and muscle memory.”;

Satele is one of two returning starters to a defense replete with new faces in the first unit. He's moved into the middle linebacker role vacated by Solomon Elimimian, the program's all-time leading tackler.

“;It's a lot of leadership and responsibility,”; Satele said. “;but I'm up to it to take the challenge.”;


Coming up

The Warriors return to practice tomorrow and will take Thursday off when McMackin and associate coach Rich Miano attend UH's pro day in Carson, Calif.