Warriors' offensive line appears to have taken a big leap forward this spring


POSTED: Sunday, April 26, 2009

It looked like an arena football game, or the crazy Nick Rolovich-Ben Roethlisberger shootout back in 2001.

That run-and-shoot offense sure plays a mean pinball.

Even in a spring game.

The offenses at the Warrior Bowl were so hot yesterday that it took an inadvertent fire alarm to douse them.

Lots of big plays, from Brent Rausch's 70-yard pass-and-run hookup with Dustin Blount on the first play to slotback Jon Medeiros' 50-yard TD to Jovonte Taylor. (Remember? Medeiros was a quarterback at Kapolei.)

A total of 48 points in the first half alone. The defense finally settled down and fired up with some big knocks after the break. Steve Stepter, Lewis Walker and Kawika Ornellas kept the intensity level up with stick after stick.

So, overall, a lot of fun for the casual fans. For the worrywarts who look a little deeper, plenty to furrow the brow over. Who were all those points scored against? The DBs weren't brought in for the day, like the refs. These are at least some of the guys who will be depended upon to stop Boise State, Wisconsin and the rest in the fall.

Four quarterbacks passed for more than 100 yards each. Five guys threw for touchdowns, and four different receivers caught them.

UH is a cradle for walk-on receivers to make good. Yet another unknown, Corey Paclebar, probably earned himself a fall camp spot with seven catches.

But the best stat for the UH offense yesterday could translate into a huge plus for the Warriors this fall.


No holding penalties.

Now, you might say that the local officials were easy on UH. They did call just five penalties total, and ignored an obvious unsportsmanlike call on an over-the-top touchdown celebration.

But I talked to a couple of zebras who said UH's offensive linemen have been getting better every week—and if there had been any holding, it would've been called.

Coach Greg McMackin wants it that way.

“;On Maui last week and this week I went to the officials and told them to watch our hands,”; McMackin said. “;And every time they tell me our hands are good.”;

First-year offensive line coach Gordy Shaw said the Warriors have vastly improved their technique this spring, and that leads to improved confidence.

“;They're learning to block with their feet. They moved their feet well today and they stayed on their blocks,”; Shaw said.

There were five “;sacks,”; but that's deceiving because the orange-clad quarterbacks were off-limits for tackling.

“;When the quarterback's off-limits, sometimes it helps the defense,”; Shaw said. “;They don't have to tackle him. What I liked is I didn't see anyone come in scot-free.”;

The idea of rotating offensive linemen last year was a little funky. Now, there's a pecking order, but the coaches aren't completely settled on five yet.

“;I would say our depth and confidence have improved a lot,”; Shaw said. “;Right now, we have a lot of guys who are confident that they can give our quarterbacks all the time that they need.”;

Right now it goes, from left to right, Aaron Kia, Ray Hisatake, John Estes, Ralph Ieru and Pepa Letuli.

But guys like Adrian Thomas and Brysen Ginlack are giving Shaw, offensive coordinator Ron Lee and McMackin plenty to think about.

“;(No holding calls) is a good achievement for us,”; said Thomas, likely to be a No. 2 at one of the tackle spots in the fall.

“;The calls are better now and the game plan is easier,”; says Ginlack, who is in a pitched battle with senior Ieru to start at right guard.

McMackin smiled when he noted that this is not the same team that was called for holding 28 times in 2008.

“;We're thin on defense with Blaze (Soares) and Paipai (Falemalu) out, and we split our secondary up. But I think our offense would've moved the ball against anyone today,”; McMackin said. “;We're miles ahead of where we were last year.”;

Reach Star-Bulletin sports columnist Dave Reardon at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address), his “;Quick Reads”; blog at starbulletin.com, and twitter.com/davereardon.