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Warriors starting from scratch


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POSTED: Friday, August 07, 2009

On the first day of practice, the Hawaii football team went back to page one.

“;We're going right back to the basics,”; Hawaii head coach Greg McMackin said yesterday after the Warriors' first practice of fall camp.

“;The offense started off, in my opinion, where they left off in the spring. Defense and special teams, we're going right to the basics from the ground up.”;

The Warriors opened camp with a 2 1/2 -hour workout devoted to the fundamentals in all three phases.

Among the dominant themes for the Warriors leading up to the Sept. 4 season opener against Central Arkansas will be retooling a defense replacing nine starters while the offense works to build on the gains made since the conclusion of McMackin's inaugural 7-7 campaign.

“;We couldn't wait. We couldn't sleep last night, a couple guys kept talking about it,”; linebacker Brashton Satele said a day after the team moved into the athletic department dance studios for a 2 1/2 -week stay. “;There's nine new guys (on defense) but we're all close, so it's a good mix. ... I have confidence in every guy we line up with.”;

The Warrior offense and defense spent most of the practice on opposite ends of the grass practice field, the green and white jerseys mingling only for three special-teams periods, two focusing on the punt team and the last on field goals.

“;There was a lot of teaching going on, a lot of learning going on, which at this time of year with no pads is really important,”; McMackin said.

McMackin has long emphasized speed in forging a defense, and that attribute figures to be a key both in terms of needing to quickly develop chemistry while putting greater athleticism on the field.

“;They've come back in shape. We started with that swarm drill, and the first unit and second unit just flew,”; McMackin said.

The overall improvement in foot speed was likely a result of dramatic gains several defensive returnees made during their summer training regimens while losing extra pounds.

“;(Practice) was fun, especially at 240, it felt good,”; said Satele, who dropped 26 pounds in the offseason. “;I can feel a major difference.”;

Another major difference over a year ago is stability at quarterback, where senior Greg Alexander is entrenched as the starter.

“;We all jumped right back into it,”; said Alexander, who led the group of seven quarterbacks in orange jerseys. “;We've been working so hard over the offseason, we only took about a week or two weeks off to get their minds and their bodies fresh and we just picked up where we left off.

“;I think we're in a really good spot right now. We're definitely ahead of last year, maybe a little ahead of the curve as far as chemistry with each other. We know body language, how guys are going to run certain (routes). I'm really excited, I think we have a great chance to do some things.”;

McMackin roamed the field throughout the afternoon, observing the various position groups and barking instructions, having moved on from the controversy of a week ago.

“;I'm totally, completely focused on football,”; McMackin said.