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StarBulletin.com

Warriors make big plays


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POSTED: Sunday, April 19, 2009

There's a good news-bad news aspect to spring scrimmages.

For every highlight on offense there's a breakdown on defense to correct—and vice versa.

Hawaii's second full-contact scrimmage of the spring included three touchdowns by the offense early on, with the defense getting the better of the action later in the afternoon.

“;The good thing about being a head coach is when the offense is making big plays, I was coaching offense. When the defense was making big plays, I was coaching defense,”; UH head coach Greg McMackin said after the scrimmage at Ching Field.

The Warriors' top three quarterbacks all led touchdown drives. Defensively, McMackin praised linebacker Mana Lolotai's play and five players came down with interceptions.

“;I thought Mana Lolotai was just outstanding,”; McMackin said. “;He's been playing like that all spring. (Linebackers coach) Cal (Lee) and I have to look at the film, but he's playing pretty good at middle linebacker.”;

Working against the second-team defense, Greg Alexander went 7-for-9 in leading the offense's first unit to a touchdown on the first drive of the scrimmage. He completed a 28-yard touchdown pass to Rodney Bradley on a post pattern, then converted the extra point when Greg Salas made a leaping grab.

Brent Rausch rebounded from an interception by safety Mana Silva to operate a scoring drive capped by Jayson Rego's TD run against the defensive starters. Shane Austin later connected with speedy wideout Jovonte Taylor on a 42-yard touchdown.

“;I've been waiting since spring started (to make a big play),”; said Taylor, who kicked into another gear to chase down Austin's throw. “;When they do give us a chance, you have to go up and make the play.”;

With about 250 high school coaches lining the boundaries of Ching Field following a clinic yesterday morning, the performances of the newcomers tightened an already crowded competition for playing time at the receiver spots.

“;Whenever you've got live bullets coming and you've got a crowd, a lot of times guys will either step up their game or take a step back,”; said graduate assistant Craig Stutzmann, who works with the receivers. “;For Jovonte and for Rodney and some of the younger guys to come out and really step up their game is a really good sign for us.”;

Lolotai, who has been backing up Brashton Satele at middle linebacker, flowed to the ball to make several big hits on a sizzling afternoon.

“;During regular practice you can't really take anyone to the ground, so today was a good day to release all that,”; Lolotai said.

The scrimmage gave the coaches much to review in film sessions. It is also another measuring point heading into the final week of spring practice, which concludes with Saturday's spring game at Aloha Stadium.

“;It was a good show on both sides,”; McMackin said. “;A lot of good things and then a lot of things we have to work on.”;